November 3, 2023 3 min read


Pope County Officials Seek Neutrality in Ongoing Casino License Battle

In the wake of a recent ruling by the Arkansas Supreme Court, Pope County Judge Ben Cross is urging the county quorum court to remain neutral in the contentious legal battle over the coveted casino license for Russellville. The ruling, delivered on October 26, revoked the license from a partnership between Cherokee Nation Businesses (CNB) and Legends Resort and Casino.

Judge Cross Advocates for Neutral Stance in Pope County’s Casino Saga

Judge Cross expressed his desire for the Pope County Quorum Court to pass a resolution indicating the county’s intention to refrain from further involvement in the casino issue brought about by Amendment 100 to the state Constitution, reported The Arkansas Advocate. Resolutions, while not forming policy, serve as a statement of an elected body’s position on an issue, guiding future policy decisions.

Cross stated that the resolution indicated their position and that they would refrain from further discussions on the casino matter influenced by Amendment 100. He explained that it underscored their commitment to remaining neutral, irrespective of individual preferences regarding the casino.

The casino debate has deeply divided Pope County residents and public officials since the passage of Amendment 100 in 2018. The ruling by the Arkansas Supreme Court means that the Arkansas Racing Commission will determine the timeline for reopening the casino license application process. However, as of now, no meeting date has been set, according to Scott Hardin, spokesman for the state Department of Finance and Administration.

Amendment 100 Sparks Fierce Competition for Pope County Casino License

Amendment 100, approved by Arkansas voters in 2018, authorized two casinos at existing racetracks in Hot Springs and West Memphis, as well as one new casino in both Jefferson and Pope counties. To qualify for a license, applicants must have prior experience operating a casino and obtain letters of support from local officials.

While the Quapaw Nation successfully secured a license for Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff, the battle over the Pope County license has been ongoing between CNB, Legends Resort and Casino, and Gulfside Casino Partnership since 2020. Gulfside initially received the license, but a 2021 ruling invalidated their support letter, leading to the commission granting the license to Legends and CNB. This decision was challenged, resulting in the recent Supreme Court ruling.

CNB CEO Chuck Garrett expressed disappointment over the ruling but affirmed the organization’s commitment to obtaining the license. Gulfside attorney Casey Castleberry remains optimistic about their chances, asserting that their proposal is the best choice for Russellville, Pope County, and the entire state.


Silvia has dabbled in all sorts of writing – from content writing for social media to movie scripts. She has a Bachelor's in Screenwriting and experience in marketing and producing documentary films. With her background as a customer support agent within the gambling industry, she brings valuable insight to the Gambling News writers’ team.

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