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Group Hoping to Legalize Casinos, Expand Gaming in Arkansas

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by Colton Faull

On July 25, a campaign called Driving Arkansas Forward, which is trying to legalize casinos in Arkansas, received a letter notifying them that they had 30 additional days to collect about 15,000 more valid signatures. The group needed a minimum of 84,859 signatures.

Alex Gray, one of the attorneys for Driving Arkansas Forward, says they have the signatures but haven’t turned them in yet. “We are confident that we will have the required number and a whole lot more.”

The ballot measure would expand gaming at Oaklawn Racing and Gaming in Hot Springs and Southland Park Gaming and Racing in West Memphis, by allowing casino gambling. Southland in West Memphis already has video poker and other forms of electronic gambling. Driving Arkansas Forward’s proposal would also allow casinos to be built in Pope and Jefferson counties according to the Associated Press.

Gray says this a new group and unlike previous efforts in the past to legalize casinos in the state, Driving Arkansas Forward is “a new idea on how a casino amendment should be done.”

“In the past the amendments, at least as far as I know, unanimously have written entities, different LLCs, and companies into the constitution and guaranteed casino licenses to those entities,” he explains. “We have not done that. We think that any type of casino measure needs to be fair, it needs to be merit based. So if anybody is off running a casino in Arkansas, they have proven their merit and are qualified to do so.”

With the addition of casinos, Gray says he would like to see more money stay in the state.

“We have felt for years and years Arkansas dollars have been leaving the state to go to casinos whether it be in Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana or Missouri,” he says. “It’s time to stop losing our tax dollars to other states and let’s start attracting out of state people to Arkansas so that they can go to the casinos and all the other attractions are state has to offer.”

Gray says this is the only project Driving Arkansas Forward is currently working on but anticipates there will be more in the future.

This is the second article in a series of ballot measure updates. Check out the first article here.

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