Arkansas AG Recommends Rule Changes For Pope County Casino Applications 

Written By Katarina Vojvodic on January 26, 2024
Hand Holds Up Changes Ahead Sign

Attorney General Tim Griffin‘s office recommended rule changes for the Arkansas Racing Commission to consider. The office recommended rule changes as the next step for the commission to follow up on before establishing an application period for the Pope County casino license.

The commission will meet on. Jan. 30, 11 a.m. to consider officially proposing changes to the rules.

Once publicized, the rules must be approved by the Arkansas Legislative Council. The commission then has ten days to file them with the secretary of state to make them effective.

According to the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article, Doralee Chandler, a Republican and the deputy attorney general overseeing state agencies for Griffin, said:

“I would say you are looking at anywhere between 60 and 120 days for the rule promulgation. Our goal is to move this as expediently as we can and eliminating as much potential litigation as possible.”

Pope County casino license is a very sore subject

The Pope County casino license has been a sore subject for the county and the state, resulting in numerous court cases. People spend billions of dollars collectively at the state’s casinos each year.

Earlier this month, the Arkansas Supreme Court denied the petition from Legends Resort and Casino and Cherokee Nation Businesses. The two entities sought a rehearing in the case where the court ruled that the commission’s award of the Pope County casino license to the consortium violated Amendment 100.

The Cherokee/Legends consortium challenged Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox‘s ruling to the state Supreme Court. The Arkansas Constitution states only a single entity can hold a casino license and that Legends does not meet licensing requirements, as the company has no prior gaming experience.

Voters approved Amendment 100 to the Arkansas Constitution in November 2018, authorizing the Arkansas Racing Commission to license four full-fledged casinos. Currently, three Arkansas casinos operate in Hot Springs, Pine Bluff and West Memphis.

30-day application period for a casino license, without exceptions

Chandler told the commission last week that attorneys for Cherokee Nation Businesses and the Gulfside Partnership have “different opinions” on how to move forward. But there appears to be a “consensus of agreement” that there needs to be a “new open application period.”

As the NWA Democrat-Gazette article further states, Chandler said the AG office’s recommendation for a Pope County casino is:

“To amend the rules to allow for a path forward for the commission to open a new application period and eliminate as many legal challenges as possible to the issuance of this license that is forthcoming.”

The current rules say that the commission will accept applications for a casino license for 30 days, starting on the date established by the commission. Therefore, no applications will be accepted after that period “except for good cause shown.”

Chandler said the AG’s office recommends eliminating the phrase “except for good cause shown” from the rules. As she explained:

“This is a clause that is inviting of litigation. It is not necessary. You are setting a time period to accept those applications. Applicants that are truly interested in being considered should be able to make that application within the 30 days that you all are allowing them.”

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Katarina Vojvodic

Katarina Vojvodic is a lead writer for PlayUSA who lives in Toronto. Vojvodic provides coverage of the US gambling industry with a focus on US online casinos. Previously, she covered Ontario’s online gambling industry for PlayCanada.com. Vojvodic holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Belgrade. Outside working hours, she can be found near the water with her husband and their two kids.

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