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Arkansas Prepares to License Four New Casinos

What is the Timeline?

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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Which are the Four Casino?

Arkansas Racing Commission is developing casino regulations, procedures and policies and has not yet issued its first casino license.

When the commission opens the casino application process, the following casinos have been preparing to apply. The final list of four licensees will not be known until the end of the selection process.

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

Oaklawn announced a $100 million expansion plan to add 28,000 square feet of casino space and build a 300-guest hotel and events center.

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

A $250 million expansion plan by Southland would build a new casino complex and a 20-story hotel. The new casino would operate 2,400 slot machines and 60 live table games.

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.

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.

News Headlines

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 More casino news ...
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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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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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