In keeping with its decision last week, the Arkansas Racing Commission today officially reopened applications to operate a casino in Pope County.
As it stands: Only the Cherokee tribe, in partnership with a Jerry Jones-owned hospitality company, has backing of current local officials (the Quorum Court) for a casino. The announcement:
The Arkansas Racing Commission shall resume accepting applications for casino gaming licenses in Pope County on Monday, August 19, 2019, pursuant to the terms of Amendment 100 to the Arkansas Constitution and the Casino Gaming Rules adopted by the Commission.
All applications for casino gaming licenses must be submitted to the
Commission office located at 1515 W. 7th Street, Suite 505, Little Rock, AR 72201, by 5:00 PM CST on Monday, November 18, 2019.
Application forms for casino licenses are available from the Commission office and on the Commission website: www.dfa.arkansas.gov/racing-commission. All questions about the application process shall be directed to the Arkansas Racing Commission office, telephone number (501) 682-1467 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
At least two lawsuits complicate the issue. One is by a Mississippi casino operator contending its letters of approval in 2018 by the then-Pope County judge and Russellville mayor make it a legitimate applicant. Another is a lawsuit seeking to force a local referendum required by a 2018 county ordinance before the Quorum Court may adopt a resolution in support of a casino. The Mississippi operators have a request for an injunction to stop the Racing Commission from moving forward. The lawsuit is before Circuit Judge Tim Fox.
The suit seeking to enforce the county ordinance is before Pulaski Circuit Judge Mary McGowan. It’s a refiled version of a suit originally filed in Pope County before the Quorum Court actually approved a resolution in support of the Cherokees without mentioning the voter ordinance. The new suit was filed Friday. It names the Racing Commission as defendant and seeks a declaratory judgment that Quorum Court approval of a pro-Cherokee resolution is void because of failure to follow required local ordinance.