ARTISTIC LICENSE: The logo for the casino amendment says the tax revenue will go for roads and lower taxes. Maybe. Maybe not. That would be up to the legislature.

Driving Arkansas Forward, the group hoping to put a casino amendment on the November election ballot, has begun ads aimed at encouraging people to sign petitions for the measure. As yet, no financial disclosures have been made on backers of the amendment.

The amendment would allow two new casinos, in Jefferson and Pope counties (after local voter approval), and solidify the legal standing of existing casinos at the Southland and Oaklawn racetracks. They’d no longer need to follow the ruse that they offer “electronic games of skill” as opposed to conventional gambling. They could begin using cards, dice and roulette wheels instead of electronic versions. All the casinos will be able to offer sports wagering if the amendment is approved.

Tax revenues, an estiamted $120 million a year, would go to general local and state purposes, plus enhance support of dog and horse-racing purses. 55 percent would go strictly to general state uses. The advertising says money will go to roads and lower taxes, but neither use is mandated in the amendment. That would be left to the legislature’s discretion.

The measure is touted as an economic development tool.  To be on the ballot, the group must gather 84,859 signatures of registered votes by July 6. Paid canvassers have been at work since the attorney general approved the form of the amendment. Nate Steel, counsel for the group, also touts the measure as a way of keeping gambling dollars in Arkansas, rather than neighboring states.

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See the ad at the group’s website.

Who’s paying? No reports are yet on file with that information at the state Ethics Commission and apparently won’t be until July 15. But various sources have told me that two Indian tribes, the Cherokee and the Quapaw, and the Southland casino in West Memphis are certain to be backers and Oaklawn likely will be as well. As yet, no formal opposition has emerged.