The Arkansas Racing Commission is now accepting applications again for the Pope County casino gaming license, starting Monday, Aug. 19. Prospective casinos will have until mid-November to submit their applications.
Pope County is one of four Arkansas counties that is set up to have casino gaming. In November 2018, Arkansas voters passed Amendment 100, which expanded casino gaming options at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs and Southland Gaming and Racing in West Memphis and allowed for casinos in Jefferson and Pope counties.
Voters in Pope County rejected the amendment by a margin of 60 to 40. The county’s outgoing judge, Jim Ed Gibons, reportedly issued a letter in support of one of the five casino applicants, Gulfside Casino Partnership. According to Section 5(b) of the Arkansas Racing Commission’s Casino Gaming regulations, the letters of support or quorum court resolutions must be signed by the county judge, mayor or quorum court members holding office at the time of the application submission.
The original application period for the Jefferson and Pope counties casino licenses was from May 1-30.
In June, the Racing Commission approved the Downstream Development Authority’s, part of the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma, casino license application. Since that time, the company has broken ground on the casino.
However, the Pope County applications were all denied due to a lack of support from local authorities. These applicants included Gulfside Casino Partnership, Cherokee Nation Business, Choctaw Nation, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, and Elite Casino Resorts. This has changed in recent weeks, though.
Earlier this month, the Pope County Quorum Court endorsed the Cherokee Nation Businesses and Legends for the county’s casino license.
Click here to read more about the ongoing matters concerning the Pope County casino license.
When considering whether to award the casino license, the Racing Commission looks at the companies’ experience in casino gaming, the timeline for opening, proof of financial stability, access to financial resources, the summary of casino amenities and more. During the review process, a commission panel will evaluate the applications and award points for each.
The commission will award the casino issue within 30 business days of when the application process has been concluded.
Applications must be submitted to the Arkansas Racing Commission office, located at 1515 W. 7thStreet, Suite 505 in Little Rock, by 5 p.m. on Monday, November, 18. The application forms can be found at the commission offices or accessed through the commission’s website.