Arkansas residents voted to approve an amendment to the state’s constitution in November 2018, allowing for casino gambling. As a result, the state could issue licenses for up to four casino locations. Currently, three casinos are operational in Crittenden, Jefferson, and Garland Counties.
However, the fourth casino license designated for Pope County faced legal challenges between two bidders, Legends Resort and Casino and Gulfside Casino Partnership. This dispute put a stop to the process of developing a fourth casino for the state.
After years of legal battles, the Arkansas Racing Commission (ARC) is making efforts to potentially award the fourth casino license. The commission is working on revising the rules for assessing casino licenses to facilitate this process.
The Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported that the ACR has officially approved a revision of the rules for assessing casino licenses. Once these rules receive approval from Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the Commission will be able to initiate the application process, giving interested bidders 30 days to submit their applications.
The ACR is likely to remove a provision that allows applications to be received after the 30-day period, which the state’s Deputy Attorney, Doralee Chandler, believes invites litigation. Each casino operator that submits a proposal will undergo scoring at the end of the application period, with the highest score determining the winner of the fourth casino license.
The scoring process is crucial, and the Commission is working on creating a matrix and scoring rubric to assess the applications. The assessment will rank each application based on the total score, ultimately awarding the fourth casino license to the bidder with the highest score under the new criteria.
If there are no delays, there is a possibility that the last casino license in Arkansas could be awarded this year, marking a significant development for the Pope County casino license.