Cherokee Nation Businesses Fight Pope County Lawsuit

  • Anti-casino group files lawsuit against Cherokee Nation in a Pulaski County court in Arkansas
  • This comes just after Pope county officials gave approval to a Cherokee casino project
  • Cherokee Nation project entails a $255 million large-scale casino and hotel complex

In light of a recently announced partnership between Cherokee Nation Businesses and the hospitality company Legends, the Oklahoma-based tribe announced plans and received approval for a large-scale development of a casino resort establishment in Pope County.

Project Plans for the Cherokee Nation Casino

Earlier this year the Arkansas Racing Commission held a bid for a casino plan for the state’s Pope County. At first all five proposals from interested candidates were rejected due to a lack of letters of support. This, in turn, raised quite a few strong speeches over the matter. Regardless of the resolve, though, the recently proposed project by the Cherokee Nation for a $255 million complex received the approval of the said county’s officials. The Arkansas Racing Commission opened a new, short lived, window for applications. Naturally, the tribe quickly submitted a revised proposition, which received the commissions’ approval. It still remains unclear if any of the previous applicants will make a second attempt at the candidacy.

Plans for the proposed complex include Legends, the hospitality company, which partnered with Cherokee Nation Businesses earlier this year, in a grand-scale resort and casino project. The establishment includes a 50,000 square foot casino, which will offer gamblers the mind-boggling number of 1,200 slot machines, 32 tables, as well as a sports-book. The terms of accommodation, the complex is designed to house 200 hotel rooms, a conference center, an RV park, a pool, outdoor music scenes and more.

The Pulaski County Lawsuit

Just days following the announcement, one James Knight – a representative of the Citizens for a Better Pope County civil group – filed a lawsuit in Pulaski County, his claim being over the infringement of an ordinance, which Pope County voters had supported in the November 2018 ballot. The ordinance in questions gives the right to the county’s voters to step in on occasions, such as the county’s support of casino project proposals, and have a voice in the final decision.

As a matter of fact, the said ordinance draws its origins from Pope County voters’ strong rejection of last Novembers’ Amendment 100, which requires eligible casino proposals to include letters of support from the county judge and the members of the Quorum Court. At the time, Pope County residents passed the ordinance in question in contrast to the aforementioned amendment.

The attorney of the Cherokee Nation Businesses, Bart Calhoun, seeks a dismissal of the case, citing the unconstitutional nature of the problematic ordinance, which “completely eviscerates the Constitution’s requirement that the county judge or the quorum court decide when, how, and who to support.”

He went on to explain that the transfer of power from the courts to the voters goes against the regulations of Amendment 100 and the Constitution, and would proceed to file a complaint against the opponent group once the case was righteously dismissed.

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