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November 17, 2017

Arkansas Casino Group Turns in 50,000 Additional Signatures


LITTLE ROCK – A group hoping to develop casinos in three Arkansas counties said Monday it has turned in more than twice the number of additional signatures the state says it needs to put a gambling-related constitutional amendment on the Nov. 8 ballot.

The group Arkansas Wins would build casinos in Boone, Miller and Washington counties – all of which are border counties. It said previously that Cherokee Nation Entertainment would operate the casino in Washington County, should the issue make the ballot and voters approve it. Washington County abuts the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma.

Arkansas Wins spokesman Robert Coon says the group delivered more than enough signatures to the Secretary of State’s office for verification. Late last month, the Secretary of State’s office said it had verified 63,725 signatures, short of the 84,859 needed. Because the group had initially attained more than 75 percent of the total needed, under the law it was granted more time to gather additional signatures.

The group was given until Aug. 26 to solicit more names but turned in the new documentation nearly two weeks early. It needed 21,134 but turned in 49,790.

The Secretary of State’s office said it couldn’t estimate how long it would take for a review but said it had a Sept. 14 deadline.

Since 1994, Arkansas voters have rejected a number of casino initiatives over the past two decades, courts have stricken other proposals and backers have abandoned other attempts. Voters, however, did approve a lottery in 2008 – it provides money for college scholarships – while also legalizing bingo games for charities. Video poker and other forms of electronic gambling are currently legal at the Oaklawn horse track in Hot Springs and the Southland dog track in West Memphis, along with pari-mutuel wagering.

In addition to the presidential contest, congressional races and local legislative contests, voters will consider at least five ballot issues this fall, including:

  • the Legislature’s proposal to increase the terms of most county offices to four years and relax restrictions on what crimes prevent people from holding office and remove unopposed candidates from ballots;
  • the Legislature’s proposal to let governor retain power while out of state;
  • the Legislature’s proposal to remove a cap on bonds the state can issue to attract employers;
  • a voter backed medical marijuana plan; and
  • a voter backed proposal to limit non-economic damages in lawsuits against health care providers.

In addition to the casino proposal under review, the secretary of state’s office is also reviewing another medical marijuana proposal.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

LITTLE ROCK – A group hoping to develop casinos in three Arkansas counties said Monday it has turned in more than twice the number of additional signatures the state says it needs to put a gambling-related constitutional amendment on the Nov. 8 ballot.

The group Arkansas Wins would build casinos in Boone, Miller and Washington counties – all of which are border counties. It said previously that Cherokee Nation Entertainment would operate the casino in Washington County, should the issue make the ballot and voters approve it. Washington County abuts the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma.

Arkansas Wins spokesman Robert Coon says the group delivered more than enough signatures to the Secretary of State’s office for verification. Late last month, the Secretary of State’s office said it had verified 63,725 signatures, short of the 84,859 needed. Because the group had initially attained more than 75 percent of the total needed, under the law it was granted more time to gather additional signatures.

The group was given until Aug. 26 to solicit more names but turned in the new documentation nearly two weeks early. It needed 21,134 but turned in 49,790.

The Secretary of State’s office said it couldn’t estimate how long it would take for a review but said it had a Sept. 14 deadline.

Since 1994, Arkansas voters have rejected a number of casino initiatives over the past two decades, courts have stricken other proposals and backers have abandoned other attempts. Voters, however, did approve a lottery in 2008 – it provides money for college scholarships – while also legalizing bingo games for charities. Video poker and other forms of electronic gambling are currently legal at the Oaklawn horse track in Hot Springs and the Southland dog track in West Memphis, along with pari-mutuel wagering.

In addition to the presidential contest, congressional races and local legislative contests, voters will consider at least five ballot issues this fall, including:

  • the Legislature’s proposal to increase the terms of most county offices to four years and relax restrictions on what crimes prevent people from holding office and remove unopposed candidates from ballots;
  • the Legislature’s proposal to let governor retain power while out of state;
  • the Legislature’s proposal to remove a cap on bonds the state can issue to attract employers;
  • a voter backed medical marijuana plan; and
  • a voter backed proposal to limit non-economic damages in lawsuits against health care providers.

In addition to the casino proposal under review, the secretary of state’s office is also reviewing another medical marijuana proposal.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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