Arkansas casino measure would expand gambling at tracks
By ANDREW DeMILLO
Feb. 26, 2018
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A proposal to legalize casinos in Arkansas was revised Monday to allow expanded gambling at a greyhound track and horse track that already offer video poker and other electronic games.
Driving Arkansas Forward, the group campaigning for the casino measure, submitted its proposed constitutional amendment to the state attorney general's office, which had rejected an earlier version of the proposal. The attorney general must certify the measure's wording before the group can begin gathering signatures to try and place it on the November ballot.
The proposal would allow four casinos in Arkansas, with the bulk of tax revenue from them going toward highway needs. Two of them would be allowed at or adjacent to the Oaklawn horse track in Hot Springs and at the Southland greyhound track in West Memphis. Both tracks, which offer electronic "games of skill," have previously opposed efforts to expand casino gambling in Arkansas
"This time, it's different because of the fact that we have amended our proposal based on the attorney general's feedback and resubmitted a fair and reasonable ballot measure," Nate Steel, counsel for the campaign, said in a statement. "This allows the voters of Arkansas to expand the gaming industry in a smart and controlled manner by establishing a pathway forward for our state for years to come."
Southland praised the ballot proposal.
"Southland Park Gaming & Racing is pleased the proposed ballot initiative not only protects but would expand our gaming offerings, ensuring Southland Park would continue to create good jobs, benefit the local economy and provide significant revenue to the State of Arkansas, Crittenden County and West Memphis," Delaware North, which owns and operates Southland, said in a statement.
Oaklawn General Manger Wayne Smith said track officials didn't know the details of the ballot measure and couldn't comment.
The measure would also allow a casino in Jefferson County and another in Pope County. The proposal requires applicants have letters of support from local leaders, prove "operational experience" in an existing casino and demonstrate they'll invest at least $100 million in the facility.
Follow Andrew DeMillo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ademillo