News State Representative Calls for Delay in Awarding of Pope...

State Representative Calls for Delay in Awarding of Pope County Casino License

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It seems that Pope County in Arkansas isn’t that keen on having a new casino. The Arkansas Racing Commission have been in talks to award a casino license in the county but has many hurdles to get over first.

State representative Joe Cloud (Republican) has written to the Racing Commission asking them for their “patience and forbearance” in dealing with “the conundrum” in which the county is in. He wants them not to award the license until the completion of all current lawsuits and investigations. The state representative added that any license issued at present would be “tainted by corrupt activities.”

All is not well in Pope County and Cloud describes the divisions between the county and the city as “terrible.” The problems have arisen after voters in the county rejected Amendment 100 which was passed last November. It allows casinos to be opened in the country and expand gambling at the Hot Springs and West Memphis.

In addition, the county voters passed a country ordinance that requires officials to get the approval of voters before approving a casino proposal. However, in August, a resolution that supported a casino proposal from Cherokee Nation Businesses as passed in the Pope County Quorum Court.

That has led to this letter from the state representative asking for no decisions to be made due to the fact no vote on the issue has been carried out. There are currently three ongoing lawsuits in state courts. Further problems are complaints that have been filed with a state prosecutor and the Arkansas Ethics Commission. They claim that there have been wrongdoings by county officials.

In June of this year the Racing Commission turned down five applications for the Pope County casino license. The reason given was that none had been endorsed by current local officials. A 90-day window was then opened to see if there were any further applications. The Cherokee Nation Businesses proposal does have the county’s endorsement.

Last month the Community Gaming Evaluation Committee was formed. This gives residents an “open and transparent process” to find out more about any casino proposals. Three casino operators – Choctaw, Warner and Kehl – have submitted full proposals to the committee with the final applicant due to be selected by October 14.

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