Plans for Arkansas casino hit a snag as lawsuits mount
Pope County may not see a casino, after all
Russellville, AR has been pushing forward with its plans to see a casino in its back yard, despite opposition to the idea. It has been accepting bids from potential casino operators and the Arkansas Racing Commission (ARC) is expected to make a decision on the final choice no later than October 14. However, the brakes might be put on the announcement, and any further development, thanks to a trio of lawsuits that threaten to bring the entire idea to a screeching halt.
State Representative Joe Cloud has reportedly contacted ARC in order to request that it hold off on making a decision. He’s concerned that any license approval would be “tainted by corrupt activities,” based on several lawsuits that have been filed against the legitimacy of Russellville’s attempts, and there have also been a number of complaints filed with both a state prosecutor and the Arkansas Ethics Commission.
Cloud says in his request to ARC, “My request to you is that you simply not make any decisions regarding Pope County at this time. The people have not had another opportunity to vote on the casino issue as was the clearly expressed desire at the last election and is current law in our county.”
When voters took to the polls last year, one of the items on the ballot was whether or not expanded gambling should be allowed in the state. The measure received enough support to be approved; however, Pope County residents, in a show of solidarity, overwhelmingly rejected the proposal.
Certain operators have sued, asserting that the decision on who would be chosen was already known before the bids had been submitted, alleging possible illegal negotiations having taken place. Cloud wants ARC to slow down in order to use “patience and forbearance in dealing with the conundrum in which Pope County finds itself.”