LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A state election board on Wednesday blocked an effort to put a new measure in front of Arkansas voters that would stop development of a casino in Pope County.
The Arkansas State Board of Election Commissioners decide against the proposal from the group Fair Play for Arkansas, which would have partially reversed the vote for a 2018 constitutional amendment that gave the green light for the development of casinos in four counties.
Early in July, the group submitted more than 100,000 signatures on a petition supporting the repeal of the casino approval, with a spokesman for the group saying at the time that the 2018 law was not, “something that we asked for, and yet it’s been forced upon us.”
Records show that while the state approved the 2018 measure with a 54% “Yes” vote, the bill failed in Pope County, with 60% in opposition.
The group who now has the license to build and run the casino, Legends Resort & Casino and Cherokee Nation Businesses, has claimed that the group pushing the new bill represents interests outside of the state. They also said polling done earlier this year shows that a majority of Pope County residents now support the casino.
While the casinos in Crittenden, Garland and Jefferson Counties are all open and running, the Pope County facility has been mired in controversy over who would build and operate the business.
The Arkansas secretary of state has not yet announced if enough signatures submitted by the group trying to get the initiative on the ballot were verified to qualify the effort.
Earlier in the meeting Wednesday, the board rejected a ballot measure looking to open recreational marijuana use in Arkansas.
That plan had passed the verification stage with the secretary of state’s office. Organizers of the effort have said since the vote that they plan to file suit to put the matter in front of the Arkansas State Supreme Court.