On Friday, Judge Wendell Griffen of the Pulaski County Circuit approved a restraining order on the Arkansas Racing Commission. The ruling blocks the commission from accepting casino proposals and issuing casino licenses in Pope County.
As reported by Fox 16 TV News, the ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by Citizens for a Better Pope County. The group is strongly opposed to having a casino built anywhere around leave alone in the county and had moved to court to ensure none is opened in the county.
After reviewing the request for an emergency temporary restraining order, the judge concluded the restraining order was warranted and hence the ruling. The ruling resulted in the commission canceling a public meeting it had planned for Monday. An administrative analyst from the commission told Casino.org that the meeting had been planned to discuss the license for a casino that would be operated by the Cherokee Nations Businesses, Oklahoma.
During a previous ballot, 54 percent of the citizens of Arkansas approved for casinos to be built in the state. However, more than 60 percent of the voters in Pope County was against having a casino built in their vicinity. According to the article appearing in the said news website despite this, local authorities have been accepting proposals from gaming operators. The major bone of contention between the activist group and the commission is that the commission had the audacity to advertise for a second application period.
The first application period saw 5 applications submitted to the commission in May, according to the Times. The commission did not accept any applications in June, instead approved a second application period, according to the news by Associated Press. It was during the second opening that Cherokee turned in their application.
All this was against rules of the commission which clearly state that opening a second period is only acceptable if no applications were submitted during the first period. In August, the local city council endorsed a casino plan from the Cherokees. What is not clear, however, is why the board was somewhat reluctant to seek public opinion in this decision.
While it may sound hard, this unlawful trend continued like it was ordinary, with Choctaw Nation submitting its application for the county’s gaming license in November, not minding the red alert from the public. It became the second Oklahoma tribe to seek the much-coveted license. However, the application did not receive the expected support from the county officials. Choctaw Nation owns three integrated casino resorts and 18 other casinos in Oklahoma.
Casinos are running the business as usual in other counties in Arkansas. The Oaklawn and Southland casinos are fully functional, complete with gaming tables and slots. Jefferson County has selected one of the tribes in Oklahoma, Quapaw Nation, to build a multi-million casino resort in Pine Bluff. The project which is expected to be similar to the tribe’s Downstream Casino will be worth not less than $350 million.