Driving Arkansas Forward, the group formed to advocate Issue 4 to expand casino gambling in Arkansas, reported today an additional $2.7 million in contributions to push total contributions for the campaign to more than $7 million. Most of the money has already been committed to advertising.
The new money included a significant contribution — $1.16 million — from Delaware North, which owns Southland dog racing and casino in West Memphis. It had previously announced its support and a $50,000 contribution but was expected to weigh in more heavily. The amendment allows regular casino gambling there, plus sports bookmaking, and ensures the casino’s legal status, which is somewhat cloudy under Arkansas law and constitution. The future of greyhound racing in America is bleak and under current law, the casino couldn’t operate without the parimutuel dog racing. The remainder of the new money came from the Oklahoma-based Cherokee and Quapaw tribes, which plan to apply for casino permits that would be allowed in Pope and Jefferson counties. Cumulatively, the Quapaws have contributed $3.6 million to the campaign and the Cherokees $2.2 million.
Oaklawn Park, the horse track and casino in Hot Springs, would benefit as Southland would from the amendment, including a reduction in the state tax rate. It has taken no public position on the amendment, but it has also not opposed it, as it has done on some past casino expansion efforts.