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Arkansas Opens First Casinos

Casino gambling was prohibited in Arkansas until voters approved a constitutional amendment to allow four casinos in November 2018. The ballot initiative gave the Arkansas Racing Commission the authority to license and regulate casino gambling.

The first two casinos opened April 1, 2019 at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs and Southland Gaming & Racing in West Memphis.

The two remaining casinos will be built in Jefferson and Pope Counties. The Arkansas Racing Commission has accepted applications for both locations and will begin considerations on June 13th.

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News Headlines

News Saracen Casino Resort wins sole casino license for Jefferson County June 14, 2019 - The Arkansas Racing Commission unanimously approved the casino license for the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma to build thier Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluffs, Arkansas. ... Read more News Arkansas has 6 bids for 2 new casinos May 31, 2019 - The Arkansas Racing Commission recieved 6 applications to build casinos in Pope and Jefferson counties. Deadline for submission was May 30th. The Commission's next step is ... Read more News Quapaw Nation Applies for Arkansas Casino May 1, 2019 - The Quapaw Nation was the first to apply to build a casino under the new Arkansas casino law. The tribe proposes a $240 million casino in the town of Pine Bluff in Jefferson County. ... Read more News Arkansas' First Casinos Open at Two Racetracks April 1, 2009 - Five months after voters approved casino gambling in Arkansas, two race tracks have officially began casino operations with blackjack, poker, roulette, and slots machines. ... Read more News Saracen Casino Resort Project Update March 9, 2019 - The Quapaw Tribe intends to start construction on the Saracen Casino immediately after the state approves its gaming license. The construction timeline will be similar to building the Downstream Casino in Oklahoma. ... Read more More Headlines ...

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Arkansas Casinos

The Arkansas constitutional amendment approved by voters in Nov 2018 authorizes four casinos to be licensed for Vegas-style gambling.

AUTHORIZED CASINOS

  • Oaklawn Racetrack in Hot Springs National Park, AR
  • Southland Racetrack in West Memphis, AR
  • New casino to be built in Jefferson County
  • New casino to be built in Pope County

OPERATING CASINOS

Both racetracks were licensed and began casino operations on April 1, 2019.

Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort
2705 Central Avenue
Hot Springs National Park, AR 71901
(501) 623-4411

Southland Casino Racing
1550 Ingram Boulevard
West Memphis, AR 72301
870 735-3670

NEW CASINO APPLICANTS (Pending)

The following groups have publicly announced their intentions to apply for licenses. The Arkansas Racing Commission will begin accepting applications on May 1, 2019.

JEFFERSON COUNTY - 1 applicant

Saracen Casino Resort
Pine Bluff, Jefferson County, Arkansas

The Quapaw Nation plans to build Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff and open it by early 2020.

POPE COUNTY - 5 applicants

River Valley Casino Resort
Russellville, Pope County, Arkansas

A $254M casino resort is proposed for Russellville in Pope County, featuring a 100,000 square-foot casino floor, 2,100 slot machines, 100 table games and 600 hotel rooms. Opening date could be Fall 2020.

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Arkansas
An initial announcement was published April 24, 2019 by a joint venture between Hard Rock International & Warner Gaming expressing intent to file an application. The plan will cost $230 million to build a 44,450-square-foot casino and a 300-room hotel. The casino would feature 1,150 slot machines, 28 table games, a poker room and a sports betting lobby.

Applications were also submitted by the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, Choctaw Nation and Robert and Ruth Kehl.

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The Legalization of Casino Gambling

A ballot measure calling for the state to license four casinos was approved by voters in the Nov 2018 election.

The resulting constitutional amendment authorised the Arkansas Racing Commission to regulate casinos and defines casino gambling as Vegas-style gambling and sports betting.

The amendment also authorizes the new types of casino gambling to be played at racinos (racetrack and casino), where previously these track casinos could only offer electronic games of skill.

Arkansas has two existing racinos: Oaklawn Racing & Gaming in Hot Springs and Southland Gaming and Racing in West Memphis. Both Oaklawn and Southland have announced major expansion plans to build larger casinos and to add hotels.

Two new additional casinos will be licensed by the Racing Commissions bringing the total to four casinos. One will be in Jefferson County and the other in Pope County. This application process will commence when the commission finalizes its operational rules.

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More Headlines

News Saracen Casino Resort Status Report February 26, 2019 - This is a summary of the key progress made since the Nov 2018 election which allowed a casino to be built in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Includes timelines, schedules and opening date. ... Read more News Southland Plans $250M Casino and Hotel January 25, 2019 - Southland is planning a major expansion of facilities costing $250 million. The plan includes a casino with 2,400 slot machines and 60 live table games plus a 20-story hotel. ... Read more News VIDEO: "River Valley Casino Resort" is Proposed for Pope County December 28, 2018 - This casino proposal would be built in 3 phases and features 2,100 slot machines, 100 table games and 600 hotel rooms. Opening date is late fall 2020. ... Read more News Oaklawn announces major expansion with hotel, events center November 19, 2018 - The Oaklawn racetrack will spend $100 million to build a 200-room hotel, a multipurpose event center and a larger gaming floor. ... Read more News Proposed Saracen Casino Resort gets city and county government support December 09, 2018 - The Quapaw Nation of Oklahoma has received governmental support from both the county and city to build a casino resort in Pine Blluff, Arkansas. ... Read more News Quapaw Tribe plan Pine Bluff casino to open early 2020 November 08, 2018 - The Quapaw Tribe is seeking state approval by April 2019, so construction can start in mid-2019 and the casino could open in early 2020. ... Read more News Arkansas voters pass casino amendment November 06, 2018 - Amendment 3 to authorize casinos in Arkansas was passed by voters in the Nov 3rd election. ... Read more News Quapaw tribe contributes $1.4M to support casino referencdum September 18, 2018 - The Quapaw Tribe in Oklahoma supports the Arkansas ballot referendum to allow development of 4 casinos. The tribe's donations to Driving Arkansas Forward total $1.4M. ... Read more News Oklahoma Tribes contribute funds to Arkansas Casino Campaign July 18, 2018 - Two Oklahoma tribes are contributing to the Arkansas casino campaign. The Cherokee Nation has already contributed $525,300 and the Quapaw have contributed $707,000. ... Read more News Arkansas casino measure is officially on Nov 6 ballot May 29, 2018 - Arkansas voters will be asked on their November ballot whether or not the state should legalize up to four casinos. ... Read more News Arkansas AG rejects casinos ballot initiative
April 11, 2018 - A 2018 ballot proposal by Arkansas Wins in 2018 Inc to legalize four casinos has be rejected by Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. ... Read more
News Arkansas Election Measure Proposes Three Casinos
01.08.2018 - A constitutional amendment has been submitted to state Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's office last week. The amendment would allow for three casinos to be developed in Arkansas. ... Read more


News Articles

Arkansas has 6 bids for 2 new casinos

May 31, 2019

The bidding period ended yesterday at 5:00pm for interested parties to submit their application to the Arkansas Racing Commission for development of a casino in Pope or Jefferson County.

A total of six applications were submitted. Five bids were placed for the Pope County casino. Only the Quapaw Nation bid on a casino in Jefferson County. The Arkansas Racing Commission will begin review of each submission on June 13.

The five bidders for the Pope County casino were:

  • Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma
  • Choctaw Nation
  • Gulfside Casino Partnership
  • Hard Rock International & Warner Gaming, Joint Venture
  • Robert and Ruth Kehl
  • Tri-Peaks Entertainment Group LLC

Arkansas voters approved 4 casino gaming locations in last November's election. In addition to new casinos in Pope and Jefferson counties, two racetracks were authorized to add Vegas-style gambling. These were the Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort and Southland Casino Racing. Both opened their casino operations on April 1, 2019.

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Arkansas' First Casinos Open at Two Racetracks

April 1, 2019

Arkansas' First Casinos Open at Two Racetracks

Five months after voters approved casino gambling in Arkansas, two race track have official opened their new casino operations with blackjack, poker, roulette and slot machines. Sports betting is expected in a few months.

Under the new law these casinos will be open 24/7 year round. Previously as racetracks they closed for Christmas and Easter.

Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort

Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs opened their new casino at 4am April 1st. Oaklawn offers 1,300 slot machines and 22 live table games.

Oaklawn will begin a $100 million construction project in May to build an entertainment center and a 200-room hotel with a spa and an outdoor pool. Construction will be completed in early 2020.

Southland Casino and Racing

Southland Casino and Racing in West Memphis also opened their new casiino April 1. Southland hosts 2,000 slot machines and 40 live table games.

Southland will begin a $250 million construction project in May to add 28,000 square feet of casino space with an additional 500 slot machines and 20 table games. The project also includes a 20-story hotel tower and four new restaurants.

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Arkansas voters pass casino amendment

November 06, 2018

On Wednesday approval was given to add proposed casino legislation to the Arkansas November ballot. 85,000 signatures from registered voters were needed in support of the proposed measure. 99,988 signatures were submitted.

The measure would bring casino gaming to select racetracks. Those racetracks operate electronic gaming, such as video poker.

Out of state competition has prompted the proposed measure. Residents of Arkansas are crossing the state line to gamble. That is potential tax revenue that Arkansas could use for improvements like infrastructure. There would also be the creation of new jobs.

The measure is opposed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson and a conservative group.

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Quapaw tribe contributes $1.4M to support casino referendum

September 18, 2018

The ballot measure that would allow for the development of 4 casinos in Arkansas has received a $1.4 million contribution in support by a Native American tribe.

In August a donation of $191,000 was given to Driving Arkansas Forward by the Quapaw Tribe in Oklahoma. This made the total donations to the cause $1.4 million.

If the proposed measure is approved the Arkansas State Racing Commission will allow the Southland Racing Corp. and Oaklawn Jockey Club to expand their gaming offerings. Also, two new casinos would be built. One would be in Russellville. The other near Pine Bluff.

The proposed measure has been certified for the ballot this November.

Last week the Arkansas Supreme Court was asked to have the measure removed from the ballot by two committees.

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Oklahoma Tribes contribute funds to Arkansas Casino Campaign

July 18, 2018

A constitutional ballot referendum is being proposed that would allow for four casinos to be built in the State of Arkansas. The committee that is striving to push the measure forward is Driving Arkansas Forward. The group has support from both the Cherokee Nation and the Quapaw Tribe. The Cherokee Nation has contributed $525,300. The Quapaw have contributed $707,000. This is a total contribution of $1.23 million.

Another $180,000 was given by the Quapaw Tribe to pay for the hiring of a firm that will collect signatures to have the proposed measure placed on the November ballot. The Gulfside Casino Partnership and the Association of Gaming Equipment also donated an additional $10,000.

A large portion of the money will be spent on advertising to promote the measure.

Voters need to give approval for the measure if casinos will be allowed to be built. Southland and Oaklawn Racing would be allowed to expand their wagering operations and be allowed to offer some casino gaming. Two other casinos would be built in Jefferson and Pope Counties.

It is possible that $120 million could be earned in tax revenue for the state every year per a report by the Driving Arkansas Forward committee.

July 9 was the date that signatures needed to be submitted by. Over 96,000 collected signatures of approval were given to the office of the Arkansas Secretary, Mark Martin. The process has started to authenticate the signatures.

Currently there are 11 states that do not have casinos.

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Arkansas casino measure is officially on Nov 6 ballot

May 29, 2018

A ballot measure is about to be voted on by Arkansas voters asking to build four casinos. One would be located in Jefferson County. The measure was recent approved to move forward by Leslie Rutledge, the Attorney General for Arkansas.

The push behind allowing for casinos to be built in the state is being supported by the group, Driving Arkansas Forward. Under the proposed bill the casinos would be taxed at 65%. The money would go to improve bridges and roads.

For the measure to be placed on the ballot for voters to decide, signatures need to be collected to show support. By July 6 84,859 signatures must be submitted. Voting will take place on November 6.

In addition to Jefferson County, Pope County is another location for two casinos. They would be located in West Memphis at the Southland greyhound track. Also, at the Oaklawn horse track that is located in Hot Springs.

The measure previously failed approval from the Arkansas Attorney General due to the wording of the bill's title. Rutledge believed that the wording was misleading and would not be clear to the voters. A lawsuit occurred shortly after. The Arkansas Supreme Court heard the case, Couch v. Rutledge. After the ruling, Rutledge certified the title for the proposed measure.

When the announcement was made earlier this year that the casino measure could move forward, members of the business community and officials from Pine Bluff and Jefferson County met. There was an event for the Economic Alliance for Jefferson County. During this meeting plans for a new resort casino were presented by the Quapaw Indian Tribe's Chief, John Berrey. The project would create 1,000 new jobs in the county.

The tribe owns a casino in Oklahoma. Located in Joplin, Missouri and close to the state line boarder.

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Arkansas AG rejects casinos ballot initiative

April 11, 2018

A proposal that would allow for the development of four casinos in Arkansas was denied on Tuesday by Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. The proposal was for the naming and ballot title for a bill that would require a constitutional amendment allowing the casinos. The casinos would be built in Miller, Benton, Pulaski, and Boone counties. Tax money from the casinos would go to fund highway infrastructure projects.

The proposal is being promoted by Arkansas Wins in 2018 Inc. It is a private group in favor of the development of casinos in the state.

Currently electronic versions of games of skill are permitted to be in operation. These games can be found in West Memphis at Southland Park Gaming and Racing and in Hot Springs at Oaklawn Racing and Gaming.

The ballot title and naming were denied for the proposed measure since the Attorney General Leslie Rutledge did not believe they accurately described the proposal. She believes the text was ambiguous and not clear what was being proposed to voters.

Certification is needed by the Attorney General for the ballot title and popular name. This must happen before signature collection in support of the measure can take place. 84,859 signatures will be needed to have the measure placed on the general election ballot for November 06 of this year.

This is not the first time that a proposed casino bill has been rejected by the AG. It happens to be the third time this year. Earlier this year Driving Arkansas Forward attempted to have their ballot name and title approved. That proposal would have allowed for four casino licenses. Southland and Oaklawn would have received one each. The other two would go to Pope and Jefferson counties. The tax revenue made from the gaming would also go to fund highway projects.

A different proposal has been submitted by Driving Arkansas Forward. This one involves the Quapaw Tribe. The tribe has interest in developing a casino.

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Arkansas Election Measure Proposes Three Casinos

January 08, 2018

A constitutional amendment has been submitted to state Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's office last week. The amendment would allow for three casinos to be developed in Arkansas.

The state would receive 12 percent of the gross revenue from each casino under the proposed amendment. Most of the money would go to the Arkansas Department of Transportation. It is estimated that could be $45 million in annual proceeds for rood improvements.

Crittenden and Jefferson counties would be the location for two of the casinos. Either Union, Mississippi, White, or Pope county would be the location for the third.

There will be a $100 million minimum investment by the casino operators.

A poll conducted in 2016 found that 38 percent of Arkansas residents favored the idea of a casino. 49 percent were against it. 13 percent were unsure.

Currently slot machines are located at two parimutuel racetracks. However there are no Native American owned casinos or commercial casinos in the state.

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September 19, 2016

Lawsuit Asked to be Dropped by Pro Arkansas Casino Group

A lawsuit to stop the ballot measure that would allow for casinos has been filed. The lawsuit wants the election officials to be blocked from counting the measure's votes.

Arkansas Wins in 2016, the group in support of the measure, has asked the Arkansas Supreme Court to dismiss it.

Opponents to the measure feel that the wording used is misleading. They also believe that the law was not followed when it came to reporting paid canvassers.

However, Arkansas Wins in 2016 believes that their opponents have not provided information on how the proposed casino bill would adversely affect them.


September 17, 2016

Arkansas Casino Bill Supported by Cherokee Nation

The proposed casino ballot has gotten support from Cherokee Nation Businesses. $400,000 has been given to help fund the support for the measure.

On Thursday a report for the campaign financing was released. Arkansas Winning Initiative Inc., was given the money.

If the measure is approved a constitutional amendment would allow for the development of casinos in Washington, Boone, and Miller counties.

Cherokee Nation Businesses has expressed interest in operating the casino that would be located in Washington County.

$1 million was given by the tribe in June in support of the measure. In August a $100,000 loan was also given by Marc Williams of Branson, Missouri.

Operators of the two race tracks in the state have given over $100,00 to help stop the measure from being approved.


September 14, 2016

Arkansas Casino Bill Pushes Forward

Voters will decide this November if new casinos should be built in the state. The ballot measure, Issue 5, would allow for casinos in three areas. Those areas are Harrison, Texarkana, and Fayetteville.

Arkansas Wins in 2016 is the group behind the proposed bill. The group believes that the casinos would bring more tourism, create new jobs, and the revenue could be taxed. It is estimated that the casino tax money could earn Arkansas tens of millions each year.

The Family Council opposes the measure. The group believes that the casinos would hurt the local host communities and that casinos would not be under the control of the government.

Under the proposed measure, the governor would form an Arkansas Gaming Commission. The commission would regulate and enforce the gaming laws of the state.

If Issue 5 is voter approved, a state constitutional amendment would be needed.


September 06, 2016

Arkansas Casino Measure Could be Blocked by Lawsuit

On Tuesday the Arkansas Supreme Court was asked to stop the proposed casino measure from being added to November's ballot. The measure would allow for the legalization of casinos and allowing them to be built in three counties.

The lawsuit wants officials prevented from counting votes for the measure. The group behind the lawsuit is The Committee to Protect Arkansas' Values/Stop Casinos Now.

Miller, Washington, and Boone counties are the proposed locations for the casinos.

The language used in the proposed measure's title is believed to be misleading according to the people against the measure. They believe that potential consequences of the casinos are not clear for the voters.

Arkansas Wins in 2016 is behind the measure. The group believes that they will win against the lawsuit.


September 01, 2016

Issue 5 Casino Ballot Measure Approved for November Vote

Enough signatures have been submitted to let voters decide in November if they will approve three new casinos in the state.

Issue 5 is the ballot that would make an amendment to the Arkansas state constitution.

Arkansas Wins in 2016 is the group behind that proposed measure.

Cherokee Nation Entertainment has agreed to help in the development in a casino resort in Washington County.

Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin's office has verified over 100,000 signatures to approve the addition of the measure to November's ballot. The minimum amount of signatures need is 84,859.


August 17, 2016

50,000 More Signatures Submitted for Arkansas Casino Measure

50,000 more signatures have been submitted in support of a proposed ballot measure that would allow for three casinos to be developed. The measure would amendment of the state's constitution to allow for the new casinos.

The signatures were submitted by the group, Arkansas Wins.

The casinos would be built in Boone, Miller, and Washington counties. Cherokee Nation Entertainment has agreed to operate the Washington County casino.

Voters in Arkansas have not favored casino proposals in the past. However, a lottery and bingo for charity was approved by voters in 2008.


July 27, 2016

AR Casino Ballot Measure Given More Time

More time to collect signatures in support for casinos in Arkansas has been granted.

Miller, Boone, and Washington counties are the proposed areas for the casinos.

A constitutional amendment would be needed for casinos to be developed in the state.

63,725 signatures have been collected. That is 75% of the required total signatures of 84,859 needed. It was this reason that the extension was granted by the Secretary of State. The final signatures need to be collected and submitted by August 26.

Cherokee Nation Entertainment has agreed to operate the Washington County casino location if the measure is approved by voters.


July 08, 2016

Signatures Submitted for Arkansas Casino Measure

Signatures have been submitted by a group that is pushing for a November ballot measure that would allow for three counties in Arkansas to build casinos.

Over 92,000 signatures were turned in my the group Arkansas Wins in 2016. The law requires a minimum of 84,859 signatures.

The proposed measure would call for an amendment to be made to the state constitution. It would allow for casinos in Washington, Boone, and Miller counties.

It was announced last month that Cherokee Nation Entertainment has expressed interest in being the operator for the Washington County casino.


June 24,2016

Cherokee Nation Entertainment to Run Proposed Washington Casino

Three counties in Arkansas could be allowed to develop casinos in a measure is approved by voters this November. Of those casinos, Cherokee Nation Entertainment has agreed to be the operator of one in Washington County.

A committee has formed to support the measure. If approved, the state's constitution would need an amendment.

Cherokee Nation Entertainment has agreed to operate the hotel and entertainment center in addition to the casino.

Currently the company operates and owns nine casinos in Oklahoma. There is a tenth location that is being built now in Grove.

Land trust status will not be sought by the company.

Miller and Boone counties are the proposed locations for the other casinos.


June 03, 2016

Three News Casinos Proposed for Arkansas


May 12, 2016

Additional Casinos for Arkansas Rejected

On Thursday, a proposed measure that would expand casino gaming in Arkansas was rejected by the state Attorney General.

Boone, Miller, and Washington counties were the locations that would have been allowed casinos.

The measure was rejected based on lacking more in depth details and vague language.

Currently there are two casinos in the state. They are located in West Memphis and Hot Springs.


October 05, 2012

Casino Measure Denied by Supreme Court

The Arkansas Supreme Court rejected a new state measure that would allow for four casinos to be built.

Professional poker player, Nancy Todd had been one of the measure's main supporters. It was rejected by the state's Supreme Court due to the wording that was used. It was ruled by the court that voters would not be informed well enough by the way the measure was written.

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel stated that the measure's wording was insufficient and vague. He also stated that the wording failed to educate the voters that the current electronic gaming law could also be repealed.

If the measure was approved, a new constitutional amendment would be made. It would allow for Las Vegas based company, Poker Palace LLC, rights to own and operate the proposed four new casinos.

Language changes to the bill were made by Nancy Todd and resubmitted to have it placed on the November ballot. Over 78,000 signatures were collected in support of the measure. However the Supreme Court ruled that the signatures were invalid due to being collected before Todd had changed bill.


January 16, 2008

Fort Smith Indian Casino Rejected by Federal Government

FORT SMITH, AR - The U.S. Department of the Interior rejected a proposal by the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians to build a riverfront casino in Fort Smith.  The tribe had applied to the department to place 10 acres of into federal trust for the purpose of building a casino.

In a surprising change of policy, the Interior Department added a new criteria based on commuting distance from a reservation to a casino.  The Keetoowah live in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, a distance of 90 miles.  The proposed casino site is near the ancestral lands of the Keetoowah.

Based on this distance criteria, the department rejected the tribe's application along with similar applications from ten other tribes across the country.

The tribe is considering an appeal.


May 12, 2016

Additional Casinos for Arkansas Rejected

On Thursday, a proposed measure that would expand casino gaming in Arkansas was rejected by the state Attorney General.

Boone, Miller, and Washington counties were the locations that would have been allowed casinos.

The measure was rejected based on lacking more in depth details and vague language.

Currently there are two casinos in the state. They are located in West Memphis and Hot Springs.


October 05, 2012

Casino Measure Denied by Supreme Court

The Arkansas Supreme Court rejected a new state measure that would allow for four casinos to be built.

Professional poker player, Nancy Todd had been one of the measure's main supporters. It was rejected by the state's Supreme Court due to the wording that was used. It was ruled by the court that voters would not be informed well enough by the way the measure was written.

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel stated that the measure's wording was insufficient and vague. He also stated that the wording failed to educate the voters that the current electronic gaming law could also be repealed.

If the measure was approved, a new constitutional amendment would be made. It would allow for Las Vegas based company, Poker Palace LLC, rights to own and operate the proposed four new casinos.

Language changes to the bill were made by Nancy Todd and resubmitted to have it placed on the November ballot. Over 78,000 signatures were collected in support of the measure. However the Supreme Court ruled that the signatures were invalid due to being collected before Todd had changed bill.


January 16, 2008

Fort Smith Indian Casino Rejected by Federal Government

FORT SMITH, AR - The U.S. Department of the Interior rejected a proposal by the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians to build a riverfront casino in Fort Smith. The tribe had applied to the department to place 10 acres of into federal trust for the purpose of building a casino.

In a surprising change of policy, the Interior Department added a new criteria based on commuting distance from a reservation to a casino. The Keetoowah live in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, a distance of 90 miles. The proposed casino site is near the ancestral lands of the Keetoowah.

Based on this distance criteria, the department rejected the tribe's application along with similar applications from ten other tribes across the country.

The tribe is considering an appeal.

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