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Casino opponents in Pope County raise more than $1M in June

Sides on amendment issue about county file June reports by Stephen Simpson | July 19, 2022 at 6:51 a.m.
A roulette wheel spins in 2018 at Cherokee Casino & Hotel in West Siloam Springs, Okla. (File Photo/NWA Democrat-Gazette/Ben Goff)

Proponents of a proposed constitutional amendment that would remove Pope County as a site for a casino raised more than $1 million in June.

The Fair Play for Arkansas 2022 committee reported raising $1.2 million in contributions and spending $946,923.12 in June. According to the report, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma contributed $1.2 million to the committee last month.

The majority of expenditures for the committee in June went to a canvassing service based out of Denver known as Blitz Canvassing.

In total, the Fair Play for Arkansas 2022 committee reported raising $3.3 million in contributions and spending $2.8 million, leaving a balance of $525,609.01 on June 30.

The Arkansas Tourism Alliance's ballot committee that opposes Fair Play's proposed constitutional amendment reported raising $50,003.040 and spending $19,285.96 in June,

The Oklahoma-based Cherokee Nation Businesses contributed $50,000 to the Arkansas Tourism Alliance committee in June, according to the committee's report.

In total, the alliance reported raising $1.3 million and spending $1.29 million, leaving a balance of $30,754.10 on June 30.

Most of the committee's expenses last month went to investigations done by Kandis Studdard and Noble Investigations Inc., which are located in Conway, and marketing efforts by Sway and Targeted Platform Media, LLC, which are located in Maryland.

Amendment 100 to the Arkansas Constitution -- approved by voters in November 2018 -- authorizes the state Racing Commission to issue four casino licenses.

The licenses are authorized for expanding gambling operations at Oaklawn Racing and Gaming in Hot Springs and Southland Casino Racing in West Memphis, and for casinos in Jefferson and Pope counties with the endorsement of local officials. The amendment also opened the door for sports betting at the casinos. Under a 2005 state law, Oaklawn and Southland had already operated electronic games of skill.

Casinos are currently operating in Hot Springs, Pine Bluff and West Memphis.

In November, the Pope County casino license was handed to Cherokee Nation Businesses to build Legends Resort & Casino after the Arkansas Racing Commission ruled to nullify the license previously awarded to Gulfside Casino Partnership.

The Pope County casino license has long been a source of turmoil for the county and the state, resulting in numerous court cases.

MARIJUANA

The Responsible Growth Arkansas committee, which is aiming to put the question of legalizing recreational marijuana on the Nov. 8 general election ballot, raised more than $1 million in the month of June.

The amendment would issue adult-use cannabis cultivation and dispensary licenses to businesses that already hold licenses under the state's medical marijuana program, as well as an additional 40 licenses chosen through a lottery.

In June, the Responsible Growth Arkansas committee reported raising $1.3 million in contributions and spending around $1.3 million.

Most of the financial backing for Responsible Growth Arkansas comes from licensed cultivators. The largest contributions last month came from medical cannabis providers Bold Team LLC, Good Day Farms Arkansas LLC and Osage Creek Cultivation LLC.

The majority of expenditures for the committee last month went to ballot signature process companies Verified Arkansas LLC and Advanced Micro Targeting Inc., located in Dallas.

In total, the committee reported raising contributions of $3.2 million and expenses of $3 million, leaving a balance of $226,263.52 on June 30.

Information for this article was contributed by Michael R. Wickline of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.


Print Headline: Casino opponents in Pope County raise more than $1M

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