The Pope County casino battle rages on

    August 15, 2019

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    LITTLE ROCK – The battle over bringing a casino to Pope County, and what company would be authorized to build it, continues to rage on.

    On Aug. 15, the Arkansas Racing Commission (ARC) denied an appeal by Gulfside Casino in which the Mississippi-based company argued for their Pope County casino application to be recognized, according to THV11 reports.

    The ARC cited that a letter of support from either the current mayor of Russellville or Pope County Judge was necessary in order for the commission to consider an application. Gulfside received a letter of support from former Russellville Mayor Randy Horton Dec. 26, 2018, but has failed to receive support from acting officials.

    On Aug. 13, Pope County officials endorsed Cherokee Nation Businesses and their Legends Resort and Casino. However, the ARC is expected to open up 90-day period for new casino proposals.

    Citizens for a Better Pope County, a group opposing a Pope County casino, formally requesting Pope County Prosecutor Jeff Phillips to look into alleged illegal meetings of Pope County officials, some of which with operators applying to bring their casino to the county, according to published reports.

    Pope County Judge Ben Cross, and members of the Quorum Court, are also being sued based on the claim that “they didn’t have the authority to endorse a casino license application without first holding a local election on the matter, as required by the initiated ordinance,” the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

    Both government attorneys, and attorneys for casino operators involved in the Pope County application process, have claimed that Amendment 100 – the amendment passed by popular vote last November approving of casinos in four locations across the state – supersedes a local amendment which requires a local referendum in order to approve any casino in the county.

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