Arkansas Could Begin Accepting Casino Applications Next June

Depending on how the vote plays out on Tuesday, Arkansas could begin accepting applications for its first casinos in June 2019. If approved by voters, the ballot measure will require the state Racing Commission to open the licensing application process in Pope and Jefferson Counties by June 1.

Multiple controversial questions will come before voters on the 2018 ballot. Two of those questions will not be weighed and the casino measure was nearly among them. The state Supreme Court disqualified a measure that would cap the damages awarded in lawsuits, and another measure that would impose more strict term limits on state legislators.

Two separate lawsuits attempted to have the state's casino legalization measure disqualified. However, both lawsuits were rejected by the state Supreme Court. While voter responses to the disqualified questions simply will not be counted, the casino measure is very much included in the tally.

The campaign to put casinos on the ballot was the most expensive of all ballot measure campaigns this year. It received $5.8 million in funding from the Cherokee and Equpaw tribes along with another $1.1 million from casino operator Delaware North, which owns the Arkansas dog racing track Southland.

The other hotly-debated ballot measure appearing in the Arkansas state elections is a question that would raise the minimum wage. This marks the second time in four years voters will have the chance to boost earnings for its lowest-paid workers. The measure proposes to slowly raise the minimum sage from $8.50 to $11 over the next three years.

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