Racing Commission reviews casino rules | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Racing Commission reviews casino rules

Posted By on Thu, Jan 10, 2019 at 12:04 PM

The state Racing Commission, which regulates casinos, today heard comments about a draft of rules to license and govern the four full-fledged casinos allowed to operate in the state under the new Amendment 100.

No action today. The rules will be circulated for public comments. But a few odds and ends of interest have emerged in KATV's Matt Mershon coverage via Twitter of the meeting:

* They quote Alex Gray, a lawyer who's represented the Quapaw tribe, as urging a "tweak" to the rule on required approval by local officials to let stand a letter of approval already submitted by former Jefferson County Judge Booker Clemons in support of the Quapaw application to operate in Jefferson County. I don't know if that mean he's encountered any resistance by the new judge, Gerald (corrected) Robinson, to back the application.  Robinson has said he's a casino development supporter, but I've been unable to reach him about whether he'd routinely echo Clemons on the Quapaw casino. The rule as proposed requires approval of a county judge, quorum court or mayor to come only after a casino application has been filed. No application has been filed yet. This rule was rewritten to block letters in support of a Mississippi casino hoping to operate in Pope County. That outfit got letters of support from the lame-duck county judge and lame-duck Russellville mayor. Its attorney argues that this proposed change is unconstitutional. Whatever else happens, court fights seem likely on about Pope County, where voters expressed opposition to a casino and other casino competitors have been working to stymie the Mississippi developers. Gray apparently wants the rule to say a minimum of one local letter of support must come from a current official. Others in Pine Bluff are also already on board. But that would still leave Pope out without letters from current officeholders.

* Casino rules will require an 83 percent payout on gambling machines, the same as for existing "electronic games of skill" at the Oaklawn and Southland casinos.

* Sports wagering must be done onsite, unlike the Oaklawn Anywhere app that allows horse race wagering by phone at Oaklawn. That horse wagering ability would continue.

Casey Castleberry, attorney for Gulfside, issued a statement later:

"Throughout this months-long process, Gulfside has diligently complied with the requirements of Amendment 100. The change in the proposed rules undermines the intent of the constitutional amendment. That said, we remain committed to Pope County and believe River Valley Casino presents a strong case for approval with its high-paying jobs, tax dollars and pledged community support."

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