The issue of casino gambling remains controversial in the US state of Arkansas despite the fact that voters largely approved the expansion of gaming in Tuesday’s elections.
An amendment to require licenses for new casino venues in Crittenden, Garland, Pope and Jefferson counties, known as Amendment 4, was passed with over 54 percent of the vote. The amendment will provide for an expansion of gambling at Oaklawn Jockey Club in Garland County and Southland Racing in Crittenden County. Speaking about the vote, the Communications Director at Southland, Glen White, said that the outcome would be beneficial for the local area:
We thank the voters for their trust in us. We will increase our investment, provide more jobs and continue to offer a great experience for our guests.”
Another casino proposal from the Quapaw Nation would see the construction of a 12-story casino resort in Jefferson County, provisionally titled the Saracen Casino Resort.
Bad deal for Arkansas
But although the voters of Arkansas approved the issuing of four casino licenses, there remains plenty of opposition to casino gambling in the state.
The Family Council opposed Amendment 4, and speaking about the outcome of the vote, the organisation’s President Jerry Cox said that the casinos would be ‘festering sores’ in the communities of Arkansas, and that the new licenses represented a bad deal for the state.
In Pope County, the majority of those who voted were against Amendment 4, and Pope County residents also approved a local referendum option which seeks to block officials in the County from issuing any letters of support for casino applications. It isn’t yet clear whether this move would be able to prevent a casino coming to Pope County, but it seems likely that any such application would meet with significant protest, despite the majority of Arkansas residents being in favour of casino gaming.