Racing commission votes to grant Pope County casino license to Cherokee Nation Businesses

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This June 23, 2021 photo shows a dealer conducting a game of roulette at Bally’s casino in Atlantic City, N.J. Figures released Nov. 9, 2021 from the American Gaming Association show the nation’s commercial casinos won nearly $14 billion in the third quarter of this year, marking the best three-month period in history for the industry, which is poised to have its best full year ever in 2021. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

January 01 2022 12:00 am

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The ongoing back-and-forth over who would run a casino in Pope County seems to have come to an end.

The Arkansas Racing Commission on Friday confirmed the recommendation from the Attorney General’s office to void the license to run a casino in the River Valley county awarded earlier to the Gulfside Casino Partnership.

The commission will now begin the process of formally issuing a license to Legends, a firm owned by Cherokee Nation Businesses.

Last month the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled Gulfside was not eligible, determining that the group did not have letters of support from officials who were in office at the time the applications opened. Instead, the company had support from city and county officials who were out of office.

That ruling was lauded at the time by current Pope County Judge Ben Cross, who said the decision by the court was a welcome one and that the plan from CNB will be a financial boom the county.

Arkansas Racing Commission spokesperson Scott Hardin noted that the agency will be refunding the $250,000 licensing fee to Gulfside and accepting one from Legends.

The casino would be the fourth built in the state after Arkansans passed Amendment 100 in November 2018.

Hardin noted that the other three are in full operations. The casinos in West Memphis, Hot Springs and Pine Bluff have seen great success and have even already begun expanding.

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