The federal court ruling easing some restrictions on ballot petitions likely will encourage others in the field with proposals. For example, a new casino gambling amendment surfaced in a filing with the secretary of state this week.
It’s a doozy and follows a template of some past unsuccessful petitions efforts to expand casino gambling through a constitutional amendment granting casino rights to individual businesses.
Sixteen casinos (to add to the three currently operating, plus a fourth that may yet open in Pope County) are envisioned. They’d include competitors for existing casinos in Crittenden, Garland and Jefferson counties, plus a couple in Pulaski not to mention Fort Smith, Texarkana, Forrest City, Prescott! and more.
This effort, too, would require more than 89,000 signatures by July 3. I can think of at least three well-funded sources that will be watching developments closely.
The LLCs listed in the amendment have already been formed, most with a Little Rock lawyer, Todd Wooten, as the incorporating agent. Wooten was a spokesman for Arkansas Wins 2018, an unsuccessful effort to get a proposal on the ballot to approve four casinos.
The vehicle this year appears to Arkansas Wins 2020, which filed paperwork with the Arkansas Ethics Commission last week. Tom Stone of Hot Springs is listed as chair of the effort. No other officers are listed and it has not yet filed a financial report.
PS: The Pine Bluff Commercial reports on progress of construction of the Saracen Resort in Pine Bluff, where a smaller slot machine annex is currently operating. An opening in September or October is expected for the hotel/casino.