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Arkansas Racing Commission Advances Cherokee Nation Proposal For Pope County Casino

The Arkansas Racing Commission voted to accept an application from Cherokee Nation Entertainment for the Pope County casino license.

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Katarina Vojvodic Avatar
3 mins read

The Arkansas Racing Commission (ARC) voted on June 12 to accept an application from Cherokee Nation Entertainment (CNE) for the Pope County casino license.

A spokesman for the ARC, Scott Hardin, told PlayUSA: “The rules require the Racing Commission to issue the Pope County casino license within 30 business days of the end of the application period (June 11).

“The commission will meet this requirement as it will meet June 27 to interview leaders of Cherokee Nation Entertainment and review the full application. Scores will then be applied to the application by commissioners.”

Oklahoma-based Cherokee Nation Entertainment and Mississippi-based Gulfside Casino Partnership submitted proposals before the June 11 deadline. However, the commission did not accept a casino license application from the latter.

Hardin explained: “It did not proceed to review as it lacked the required letter or ordinance of support from local leaders. While the Pope County license has been the source of ongoing litigation since Arkansans approved casino gaming in 2018, the license will soon be issued, barring any significant surprises.”

CNE was backed by Pope County Judge Ben Cross and received the quorum court support in December 2023.

June 27 is next key date for Legends Resort and Casino Arkansas

The Arkansas Racing Commission approved the operator license application period for the Pope County casino license, which started on May 12 and closed on June 11.

Cherokee Nation Entertainment filed its application and proposal for the Legends Resort and Casino Arkansas to the ARC on June 5. The ARC accepted an application on June 12.

As mentioned, following the Cherokee Nation’s presentation arranged for June 27 to have the application get a formal score, the commission will vote on granting the official license for the casino.

According to a KARK 4 news article, Cherokee Nation Entertainment CEO Chuck Garrett released a statement on the ARC’s vote:

“We appreciate the ongoing efforts of the Arkansas Racing Commission and the Attorney General’s office to ensure a smooth process with respect to issuance of the Pope County casino license.”

“As the only qualified applicant, we are eager to stand before the Arkansas Racing Commission, where we will demonstrate Cherokee Nation Entertainment’s more than 30 years of experience in gaming and hospitality, its strong financial position, and plans for a world-class casino resort in Pope County.”

Legends Casino to make an economic impact in Arkansas

The CNE’s planned casino site is located northeast of Russellville and north of I-40. It sits between the Weir Road exit to the west and Bradley Cove Road exit to the east.

The $300 million gaming venue would include:

  • 50,000-square-foot casino
  • 1,200 slot machines
  • 32 gaming tables
  • Poker room
  • A sportsbook
  • 200-unit hotel with a luxury spa and pool

Plans also include several dining options and a multipurpose room for meetings, conferences, and concerts. According to the Legends Resort and Casino website, CNE wants to embrace an outdoor music space, a water park, a dog park, and more.

CNE expects its proposal to make a $5 billion economic impact on the state over the first ten years, creating thousands of jobs for Arkansans.

This marks the third occasion the executives tried to issue the Pope County license since voters approved casino activity in 2018. Amendment 100 allowed the issuing of four casinos in the state.

Pope County would be Arkansas’ fourth casino. Three other casinos are:

  • Southland in West Memphis
  • Oaklawn Downs in Hot Springs
  • Quapaw Nation’s Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff
Katarina Vojvodic Avatar
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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.

View all posts by 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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