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Election commissioners decline to approve ballot title for proposed casino amendment

by Michael R. Wickline | July 29, 2020 at 5:12 p.m.
NWA Democrat-Gazette/BEN GOFF @NWABENGOFF A roulette wheel spins Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018, at Cherokee Casino & Hotel in West Siloam Springs, Okla.

The state Board of Election Commissioners on Wednesday declined to sign off on a proposed ballot title for a proposed constitutional amendment that would authorize the creation of 16 more casinos in Arkansas.

In a 5-1 vote, the board decided not to certify the proposed ballot title for the Arkansas Wins in 2020 committee’s proposed constitutional amendment.

Board member Belinda Harris-Ritter said the proposed ballot title is misleading and cited several problems she sees with the ballot title, including that it doesn’t state that the casino licenses would be perpetual.

Attorney Randy Bynum, representing the Arkansas Wins in 2020 committee, told the board last week that it’s not true that the casinos could never lose their licenses under the proposed amendment.

After the board’s meeting on Wednesday, committee spokesman Taylor Riddle said the committee would challenge the board’s ruling with the state Supreme Court.

The committee on Friday filed an appeal with the state's high court challenging Secretary of State John Thurston’s ruling that the committee’s petition to qualify the proposed casino amendment for the Nov. 3 ballot is insufficient. On July 14, Thurston ruled that because of an error regarding criminal background checks, the committee’s petition is insufficient.

Amendment 100 to the Arkansas Constitution, approved by voters in November of 2018, authorizes four casinos in Arkansas.

Under the amendment, race tracks in Hot Springs and West Memphis have expanded into full-fledged casinos and a casino is under construction in Pine Bluff. The Arkansas Racing Commission has yet to issue a casino license in Pope County.

Read Thursday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.


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