A proposal to legalize casino gaming in Arkansas has earned a spot on the November ballot after obtaining the necessary signatures.
To qualify for the ballot, supporters were required to obtain at least 84,859 signatures. However, over 99,000 signatures were collected and submitted to the Arkansas Secretary of State’s Office.
After being qualified by the state Secretary of State’s Office, the proposal is now known as Issue 4. There are two major parts to the proposed constitutional amendment. It would expand casino gaming at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs and Southland Park Gaming and Racing in West Memphis, which both offer electronic gaming already. In addition, the amendment would allow two casinos to be built in Jefferson and Pope counties.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he opposed the proposal. The Arkansas Family Council, which has opposed previous attempts to expand gambling, has also voiced opposition to the measure.
However, the proposal’s proponents have raised over $2 million to back the legislation. The Quapaw and Cherokee tribes of Oklahoma have contributed a significant portion of that amount.
According to Nate Steel, counsel for Driving Arkansas Forward, a coalition supporting expanded gaming in Arkansas, over 30 percent of Arkansans visit casinos outside the state. The group plans to focus on building awareness of Issue 4 and the benefits of keeping gaming in state.
“This amendment is the state’s best opportunity to create a transparent and equitable gaming structure free from all the pitfalls and drawbacks of casino measures in the past,” Steel said. “History tells us that we’ll keep seeing legally defective proposals from out-of-state special interests over and over again unless we act now to establish a fair model to provide entertainment opportunities in four distinct regions of Arkansas and create additional revenue to pay for our most important needs.”