- Arkansas Racing Commission open bidding process for Pope County casino.
- Controversial causes a huge delay in the process.
- The application window is still open until November 18.
Late last month, the Russellville City Council in Arkansas approved gave the state’s casino operators the go-ahead to submit their proposals for a license to operate a casino in Pope County. In the 21-page request that was issued by the city council, it was stated that that the city would be accepting development proposals until Wednesday, October 2 at noon. However, things have not been going so smoothly as the casino bidding process seems to be a little shaky, especially for the operators.
How It Started
Since it began, the process of choosing an operator for the proposed Pope County casino has been very murky, to say the least. In June, five operators who had applied for the casino license were denied by the Arkansas Racing Commission. These five operators included Warner Gaming and the Gulfside Casino Partnership – the latter has since sued the state regulator.
Later that month, the commission reopened the application process. This time, the operators will come forward with endorsement letters from elected individuals. Surprisingly, the Pope County Quorum Court endorsed the Cherokee Nation Businesses’ proposal for Legends Resort and Casino. This move was very controversial especially because it excluded Russellville from sharing the $38.8 million economic development fee. The fee which was endorsed by Pope Count judge Ben Cross will be paid for by the Cherokee Nation Businesses.
As a result, the Russellville City Council opted to form their own committer on September 5. Referred to as the Community Gaming Evaluation Committee, the new body has also caused quite a stir.
“Incomplete” Cherokee Nation Casino Proposal Rejected
This week, the Russellville City Council’s committee stated that they will not be reviewing Cherokee Nation’s proposal. As it turns out, the tribe’s casino proposal has been sidelined since a consent and release form that is required to be part of the submission was not signed.
Cherokee Nation has responded by saying that the company is yet to actually submit its casino proposal for review. According to Chuck Garrett, the Cherokee Nation’s Business CEO, they have only delivered a project overview. They did not intend for the council to consider it as an actual application for the casino license.
The council also revealed that they have already received three other casino applications from Kehl Management of Iowa, Nevada-based Warner Gaming and Hard Rock International, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. As it stands, the application window is still open to interested operators until November 18. However, more controversy is certainly on the way considering the fact that only a single bidder has letters of support.