Group lobbies for casinos in Arkansas

By Robert Simmons
A lobbying group in the US state of Arkansas has submitted a proposal to the state's Attorney General that would allow for the construction of up to three casinos in the state if ratified.

Under the proposals submitted by the Driving Arkansas Forward group, the three casinos will be taxed at 12%, with the bulk of the proceeds (estimated at around $45m annually) being used to fund improvements to the state's highways.

The Arkansas Department of Transportation has confirmed that it will use around 70% of money it would receive for road improvements with the other 30% being contributed to those cities and counties in which the casino developments are located.

Current Arkansas state law prohibits the construction of standalone casinos, with any proposed casino development being contingent on amending the current state constitution. A similar proposal was submitted in 2016 but was dismissed by the state's Supreme Court.

Under the new proposal, the first casino will be located in Jefferson County, with the second in Crittenden County. A third will potentially be located in the Crawford, Miller, Mississippi, Pope, Union or White counties.

The proposal was submitted to Attorney General Leslie Rutledge whose approval is required before it can be included in a scheduled statewide referendum, to be held in November.

Once approval has been received from the Attorney General, the Driving Arkansas Forward group will have to obtain 84,859 signatures from Arkansas residents to fulfil state requirements and be included in the November round of referenda.

Following the proposal, a number of investors have already expressed an interest in bidding for the three available casino licences, the most notable being the Quapaw Tribe who stated that they would build a $300m hotel and casino resort if they were successful.


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