The Oaklawn- and Southland-backed group opposing an amendment allowing three more casinos in Arkansas announced today that former Gov. Mike Beebe is on their side.
A news release quotes him:
“Traditionally, local communities have the right to vote on whether or not they have liquor sales in their community. This amendment would deny our cities, towns and communities the ability to decide for themselves what kind of community they want to live in. This loss of local control is why I am opposed to this amendment and would encourage voters to vote no on Issue #5,” said former Governor and Attorney General Mike Beebe.
The casinos would be allowed in Boone, Miller and Washington Counties. Alcohol sales are already legal in those three counties.
But it’s true that local option elections wouldn’t be required before the casinos opened. When the legislature opened the door to casinos at Oaklawn and Southland under the thin pretext that they’d be offering “electronic games of skill,” a local option election was required, but the casino operators got to determine the parameters of the election. Oaklawn, for example, got to decide that the election would be held only in traditinally wide-open Hot Springs and not include the more conservative balance of Garland County.
UPDATE: A comment from Robert Coon, representing Arkansas Wins, the group seeking additional casinos:
“It is no surprise that this front group for Oaklawn and Southland has elicited support from a former elected official whose firm has financial ties to Oaklawn. This group continues to mislead voters about Issue 5, and is being dishonest about their real motivations. Oaklawn and Southland will stop at nothing to protect their profits over the best interests of Arkansans. Opinions differ on this issue, which is one reason the framers gave the people a process by which they can directly amend the Arkansas Constitution. We’re proud of the fact that more than 100,000 registered Arkansas voters have signed our petitions, and look forward to passage of Issue 5 on November 8th.”
Coon refers to Beebe’s association with the Roberts Group, a law firm and lobbying combine whose clients include Oaklawn Jockey Club.