Arkansas Voters Legalize 4 Casinos

Arkansas officially legalized casino gambling in the mid-term elections. The state's two racing tracks have operated video poker and electronic games, but have never been allowed to operate full Las Vegas-style gambling. Both tracks will receive licenses and two additional licenses will be available.

The list of states that do not have any tribal or commercial casinos will soon be shorter. Arkansas separated itself from Alaska, Hawaii, Georgia, Utah, Nebraska, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina, Virginia, and Vermont with a history-making mid-term election on Tuesday.

State voters approved a constitutional amendment to legalize four casinos. Two of the casinos will come in the form of expansions of existing gaming businesses. The Southland greyhound racing track in West Memphis and the Oaklawn horse racing track in Hot Springs can both upgrade their current video poker operations to a full casino gambling floor.

Two additional casino licenses will be up for grabs, one in Pope County and the other in Jefferson County. The state will begin accepting applications for the casino licenses in June 2019. The state anticipates $120 million in annual tax revenue from casinos.

The ballot measure was primarily funded by the Cherokee and Quapaw tribes of Oklahoma. The tribes spent a combined $4 million campaigning for the measure. Supporters promoted the measure as a way to keep state gambling dollars from exiting Arkansas. The measure passed with a small 54 percent majority vote.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson expressed disappointment in the results, saying he did not support the initiative but will respect the will of voters.

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