Some companies are vying for casinos in four Arkansas counties, but it may never happen. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge rejected a casino ballot. The referendum, according to the AG, had ambiguous wording. Yet, it is the second time this year she has rejected any motion that involves gambling. While companies and other lawmakers are working towards adding more casinos, the Attorney General is against it.
She stated that if one is going to try to change the ballot, then one must properly and fully summarize the proposal. Otherwise, it will lead to confusion. Arkansas Wins created the proposal in 2018. The committee is trying to get four casinos erected in four counties. The counties are Pulaski, Benton, Miller, and Boone. The committee supports the casinos because of the tax revenue they would create. They feel the revenue should go to highway improvements.
Arkansas is one of eleven states that does not have commercial or tribal based casinos. However, they do have electric table games and slot machines at two tracks—Oaklawn and Southland Park.
AG Rutledge rejected the first request in January. The request was to ask citizens of Arkansas if they would like casino-style gambling and authorize it on the ballot. Two casino referendums are trying to fund the highway improvements versus taking the money out of taxes. The concept is known as Driving Arkansas Forward. The hope is for at least three casinos, but the group is asking for a fourth to be approved.
There was also a Hot Springs casino ballot that AG Rutledge rejected. It takes time for any changes to the laws. The citizens will need to approve any changes, but before that can happen the referendum has to get onto the ballot. It may not be approved in time for the November votes.
One worry about allowing more casinos is the media attention they would garner. Some of the news is stating that opening land-based casinos would require advertising, which would fill the airwaves with messages about gambling and going to the casinos for the weekend. In the end, by having casinos pay taxes, which would be used for the roads, the people are still footing the bill.
A Snippet on Sports Betting
Sports betting does not have the main interest in Arkansas right now. Instead, it is all about casinos and gaining more for the state. But, who knows if the sports betting law changes, casinos may attempt to get Arkansas officials on board.