Arkansas legalises casinos

Voters approved Issue 4 in Arkansas. Credits: REUTERS/Tommy Martino

Voters in the state approved a constitutional amendment to issue four casino licences, eligible to offer sports betting.

US.- After years of multiple campaigns to expand gambling in the state, Arkansans voted on Tuesday to approve a constitutional amendment to allow four casino licences. The measure also approves the expansion of gambling operations at two racinos.

Issue 4 authorises the state to issue licences for casinos in Jefferson and Pope counties, which are also eligible to offer sports betting if they decide to do so. Moreover, it allows the expansion of operations at Oaklawn Racing and Gaming in Hot Springs and Southland Gaming and Racing in West Memphis. both facilities offer electronic games of skill since 2005.

Alex Gray, counsel for the Driving Arkansas Forward, the group that sponsored the ballot, said that the voters approved the amendment because they interpreted the committee’s message of wanting to keep tax dollars in the state and create jobs, as well as develop the local economy.

Re-elected Governor Asa Hutchinson said that he doesn’t support the measure and he continues to have “great concern over the immediate and negative impact on the state’s budget.” He added: “But the people have spoken, and I respect their will,” the Republican governor said in a written statement. “Time will tell as to what this means for our state, and it remains to be seen as to whether the communities affected will consent to the gambling initiative.”

Delaware North, the parent company of Southland Gaming and Racing, is expected to develop the US$200 million venue that will be located in West Memphis. It isn’t clear when the development of such facilities would be completed as a project that size might cause the existing facilities to be modified.

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