Initial financial reports have been filed by groups pushing a casino expansion amendment and the major financial force so far are the Quapaw and Cherokee tribes of Oklahoma, which is in the casino business. Another Oklahoma tribe, a gambling machine organization and a Mississippi gambling enterprise also are listed.

Petitions are still being gathered while initial signatures are checked on a constitutional amendment to allow two new casinos in Arkansas — in Jefferson and Pope counties — and to expand existing casinos at the Oaklawn and Southland racetracks. New tax revenue would go to state general revenue, though the Driving Arkansas Forward committee likes to suggest that highway construction could be a good use of the money, an estimated $120 million that counts about half that much already being generated at existing casinos. The addition of sports wagering is expected to be a boon.

The backers filed two reports.

One, by the Arkansas Jobs Coalition, reported no raising or spending of cash, but reported almost a half-million in nonmoney contributions in the form of circulation of petitions valued at $467,909. Of that $285,415 was said to come from Driving Arkansas Forward and the rest, more than $182,000, from the Downstream Development Authority of the Quapaw Tribe.


Two organizations exist because of the legal challenge necessary to clear the gathering of petitions. Driving Arkansas Forward will be the formal campaign vehicle if the amendment is certified.

Driving Arkansas Forward reported receiving $1.252 million and spending $715,711.


The Downstream Development Arm of the Quapaw contributed $707,000. The Cherokee Nation businesses contributed $525,300; and $10,000 each came from the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers and the Gulfside Casino Partnership LLC of Gulfport, Miss. That puts the Quapaw total investment so far at almost $900,000. I’ve asked about the Gulfport backer. UPDATE: It apparently has an interest in applying for one of the new casino licenses.

The Driving Arkansasscommittee has spent more than $715,000, including $375,000 worth of TV advertising and $285,000 sent to the Jobs Coalition for canvassing.

No money has appeared as yet from Southland or Oaklawn, though Southland has explicitly expressed support for the idea. Oaklawn has put another $10,000 into a separate ballot question committee on casinos but has only spent about $2,100 on legal fees.

But it’s significant that neither casino has made a move of opposition, as in past casino efforts.


Heres’ the Driving Arkansas Forward filing.

And here’s the Arkansas Jobs filing.