Another casino measure lurking in 2016 | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Another casino measure lurking in 2016

Posted By on Tue, May 10, 2016 at 5:23 PM

Having heard word that somebody was working on the form of a constitutional amendment to allow casino gambling in Arkansas, I browsed through Ethics Commission filings  and indeed found such a committee.

As yet, no word from the attorney general's office on review of the form of the proposal.

Arkansas Wins LLC 2016 is chaired by Barry Seller of Sherwood, with officers from around the state and two from Missouri, Jim Thompson of Blue Eye and Bob Womack of Branson. Dianne Dalton of Stuttgart is listed as organizer of the Arkansas Wins LLC.  She was involved in a 2012 casino effort.

Theirs will be another one of those gambling amendments that don't open the door to casinos, but instead specifies additional legal casinos — one in Boone County operated by Arkansas Gaming and Resorts, and one each in Miller and Washington counties, operators "to be determined." 

Womack, Thompson and others were involved in the ill-fated Nancy Todd Poker Palace venture that failed to qualify for the ballot in 2012.

Charles Ormond of Morrilton also is keeping his filing current on a Committee for Arkansas Lotteries and Casinos.

Two casinos operate in Arkansas, at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs and Southland in West Memphis. Under current law, only facilities that offer parimutuel wagering are allowed to also offer "electronic games of skill." They differ little from conventional casino games, particularly slot machines, and the casinos also offer poker and blackjack among other games.

The legislature has made signature gathering on petitions harder. Several marijuana legalization signatures are circulating. But with time growing short for the November ballot — signatures must be submitted in July — only a paid canvassing campaign likely would be able to start this late and still qualify. And even paid campaigns sometimes fall short because of rules that lead to disqualification of signatures. The Friday Law Firm, which represents Oaklawn Park, is something of an expert on ballot measures and you can expect them to be on top of the action, if further develops.

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