Arkansas Racing Commission (ARC) has decided to hold off the issuance of a casino license in Pope County after a conflict of interest emerged.
The conflict broke out when Jerry Jones, the owner of Dallas Cowboys, through his Legends Company announced that he wanted a casino in the county. Rival companies emerged to challenge the company while the residents objected establishment of a casino in the area.
Several lawsuits have already been filed both by the resident and Jones rivals. The lawsuit are disrupting ARC from issuing a license until the dispute is settled.
ARC was to issue Legends and it partner Cherokee Nation Business of Oklahoma the license to operate a casino. Other companies which have shown interest in the casino race in Pope County include:
- Kehl Management of Lowa
- Gulfside Casino Partnership
- Warner Gaming of Nevada
- Choctaw Nation Division of Commerce of Oklahoma.
ARC denied Gulfside Casino Partnership from Mississippi an application for a license since the company didn’t have any backing from local leaders. The same argument was used to deny other interested groups from applying except Legends.
Two lawsuits have been submitted by residents on the issue of awarding a license for a casino. The first lawsuit is being pursued by a group known as “Citizens for a Better Pope County.” The group is claiming that awarding a license violated gambling expansion legislation enacted last year November. The group claims that the bill allows the resident to vote to determine who to operate the casino and not ARC.
The second lawsuit is being forwarded by Hans Stiritz, a group concerned about Pope County. The lawsuit accuses ARC of awarding licenses in illegal meetings and with an obscured decision. However, the law state that any meeting involving elected officials regarding casino has to be conducted in a public avenue and proper announcement be made for public participation.
Establishing a casino at Pope County will not be an easy task. The idea is receiving a lot of opposition enough to scare prospective operators, but that isn’t a reason to quit. Instead, they should continue fighting for property rights in the area. While other cities such as Hot Spring and West Memphis are welcoming casinos due to their quick revenue collection, Pope County seems not to consider the gain.