Of course existing casinos back casino amendment — it's an instant jackpot for them | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Of course existing casinos back casino amendment — it's an instant jackpot for them

Posted By on Sat, Oct 6, 2018 at 6:59 AM

click to enlarge NO SURPRISE: Southland's contribution of cash to the casino expansion amendment. It's a windfall for the casino in West Memphis.
  • NO SURPRISE: Southland's contribution of cash to the casino expansion amendment. It's a windfall for the casino in West Memphis.

Least surprising news of the day:
The Southland casino owners in West Memphis have put $50,000 into the campaign to pass the casino expansion amendment on the November ballot. To date, Indian casino corporations have provided most of the financial support.

I've said from the start that Southland backed the amendment. It's very simple:

* The current tax rate on the casinos at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs and Southland is 18 percent of net wagering revenue. The casino expansion amendment — which would legalize two more casinos in Jefferson and Pope Counties — would cut the rate to 13 percent. That cut, at current gambling levels, would cut the combined tax take at Oaklawn and Southland by $36 million a year in each of the next two fiscal years and almost $14 million in the third year. That's $86 million in added profits for Southland and Oaklawn over three years.

* The amendment would legalize pure casino gambling, now carried on under the electronic games of skill artifice which is legally dubious under the state Constitution's anti-lottery provision. (It takes skill to play those slots, we've been assured by racetrack casino operators.)

* The amendment would legalize sports bookmaking.

* The amendment would likely save Southland. As it stands, casinos are allowed in Arkansas only where parimutuel wagering on horses and dogs is allowed. That means a casino duopoly for Oaklawn (horses) and Southland (dogs). But dog racing is dying, both because of a lack of interest and pressure from humane groups. It is illegal in 40 states and operating in only six. If dog racing died, Southland's casino most likely couldn't operate under the current law.

For Southland, then, the amendment is a win-win-win-win.

PS: Oaklawn Park is said to be officially "neutral" on the casino proposal. Don't believe it. Neutrality equals support. Oaklawn has spent heavily in legal fees and otherwise to kill previous casino proposals. If it wanted to kill this one, it would have unleased the Friday Law Firm to challenge the petition signatures, as  the firm has done on minimum wage and term limits campaigns. It didn't. For Oaklawn, the casino amendment is only a win-win-win. Horse racing isn't imperiled as dog racing is.

Casino amendment backers say not to worry about tax loss projections. When the two new casinos eventually come online in a few years, tax revenue will grow, plus new jobs are coming in construction and future operations. And they say tax revenue also will grow from expanded gambling at Oaklawn and Southland. It will have to grow powerfully to recoup $86 million lost over the next three years.

That revenue reduction is also a lick into the cushion the governor is trying to accumulate to give the wealthy an income tax break.

Another question not yet raised or answered in this debate is whether legalization of casino gambling at four sites in Arkansas would contribute to a legal argument for more Indian casinos on tribal trust lands in the state. It's an intricate legal question for the future.

Tags: , , , ,


Favorite

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Today's the day for landlord-tenant bill UPDATE Another defeat

    Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R-Paragould) says he will present his HB 1410 to provide protection to renters at a committee meeting after adjournment today. The bill will incorporate changes suggested by the Arkansas Realtors Assocviation, but that powerful lobby still won't support the bill. UPDATE: the bill fell one vote short.
    • Mar 18, 2019
  • Headlines and the open line

    A busy legislature leads the day's video news roundup. Here's the open line.
    • Mar 18, 2019
  • Senate committee approves tobacco tax bill with income tax cut

    The Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee this morning endorsed Sen. Jim Hendren's SB 571 to provide an income tax cut for low-income people and make up the revenue loss with an increase in the tax on cigarettes and other smoking products.
    • Mar 18, 2019
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Sabin's subterfuge in the race for mayor has roots in rigged city government

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that an ethics complaint has been filed saying that the exploratory committee Rep. Warwick Sabin created to prepare for a run for Little Rock mayor was a subterfuge to avoid the city ordinance that doesn't allow campaign fundraising to begin until five months before the November 2018 election.Of course it is.
    • Aug 10, 2017
  • Use of solar on the rise in Arkansas

    With a pivotal ruling expected any day now from the Public Service Commission, Kyle Massey at Arkansas Business reports on the increase in Arkansans adding solar generation units on their homes and business.
    • Apr 13, 2018
  • Antwan Phillips wants to make a difference in reducing Little Rock violence

    KARK/Fox 16's push to do something about Little Rock violence includes a spotlight on people trying to make a difference — in this episode Antwan Phillips, a lawyer at Wright, Lindsey and Jennings.
    • Aug 30, 2017

Slideshows

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2019 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation