Arkansas voters said “Yes” to four brand new casinos in the state. They stated their will during the midterm elections, as one of the things to be decided was Issue 4, which dealt with these four casinos.
According to a report that was published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on Wednesday, the verdict made changes to the constitutions of this state in order to make it possible for Oaklawn Racing and Gaming in the Hot Springs, together with Southland Park Gaming and Racing in West Memphis, to transform into full-scale casinos. Both of these venues already had some sort of offer that is closely related to casino games, but it was pretty small, and it seems that the citizens of Arkansas wanted more. From Wednesday, they would be able to open an full-size casino with their portfolio much more expanded than before the election. Now, they will not only offer sportsbetting but also various table & card games such as poker and blackjack.
Apart from these to casinos, the decision on Issue 4 also included another two casinos that would be opened in Pope County and Jefferson County. The operators that wanted to open a casino there would have to pay $250,000 for a fee in order to get a license, and need to be experienced in “conducting casino gaming.” These two venues should be within two miles of Russellville and Pine Bluff, and they need to be supported either by the county judge or the county quorum court.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazzete issued a report about the statistics from voting. Reportedly, 54.09% of the voters voted in favor of approval of Issue 4, while 45.91% were opposed to it. Although the margin was close, Alex Gray, who is a member of Driving Arkansas Forward and a pro-gambling activist, stated that the results were really exciting because more jobs would be created and the economic development in Arkansas would be faster due to the taxes that the state would receive from gambling. This is really important as all the taxes that could have been harvested from the casinos in Arkansas is currently taken by the neighboring states of Oklahoma, Missouri, Louisiana, and Mississippi since the players went there in order to gamble.
But not everyone is thrilled with the results of the election, including Jerry Cox. He is the president of the Family Council Action Committee, which is pretty anti-casino. He said that it was impossible to win any debate when it comes to casinos since the pro-casino lobby spent approximately $7 million to advertise the benefits that people would get if Issue 4 passed.
The Governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson, is also concerned about Issue 4 as it could possibly lead to Arkansas receiving $36 million fewer tax dollars in 2020. This is all speculation so far and we should closely follow the situation in this state to see how everything would unfold.
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