A.G. Rejects Another Casino Proposal

April 2, 2018 | Posted in Casinos, Gambling | By

Last Thursday Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge rejected a proposed constitutional amendment authorizing four casinos in Arkansas.

Under the amendment, one casino license would go to Oaklawn in Garland County; another would go to Southland in Crittenden County; and two more casinos would be built in Pope and Jefferson counties.

The proposal is similar to one the A.G. rejected a few weeks ago. The amendment reportedly is backed by the Quapaw Tribe in Oklahoma.

In related news, last week Talk Business and Politics reported a ballot question committee has formed to push for casino gambling in Pulaski, Miller, Boone, and Benton counties. The group is called Arkansas Wins In 2018, Inc, and it appears to be an effort to let out-of-state businessmen build casinos in Texarkana, Harrison, Little Rock, and Northwest Arkansas.

As the Associated Press reported last week, all of this is setting up the possibility for competing casino amendments appearing on the ballot this November. Fortunately, Arkansas’ Attorney General is successfully stopping these groups from foisting their gambling proposals on voters.

Casino gambling is linked to homelessness, domestic violence, divorce, and bankruptcy. It’s a blight on the community. Arkansas already has enough problems from gambling. We don’t need any more.

You can read the A.G.’s entire opinion on the casino amendment here.

Photo Credit: By Toni Lozano [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

New Casino Proposal In The Works

March 28, 2018 | Posted in Casinos, Gambling | By

Talk Business and Politics reports a ballot question committee has formed to push for casino gambling in Pulaski, Miller, Boone, and Benton counties.

The group is called Arkansas Wins In 2018, Inc.

You may recall Arkansas Wins In 2016 proposed a similar casino amendment that ultimately was removed from the ballot.

This appears to be an effort to let out-of-state businessmen build casinos in Texarkana, Harrison, Little Rock, and Northwest Arkansas.

The Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma gave $6 million to Arkansas Wins in 2016. The Cherokee Nation also would have operated one of the casinos the 2016 amendment authorized. It is not clear at this point if the Cherokee Nation would operate casinos under the 2018 proposal.

Earlier this month Attorney General Leslie Rutledge rejected a casino proposal from Driving Arkansas Forward that would build casinos in Jefferson, Garland, Crittenden, and Pope counties. That amendment effort reportedly is backed by the Quapaw Tribe in Oklahoma.

Casino gambling is linked to homelessness, domestic violence, divorce, and bankruptcy. It’s a blight on the community. Arkansas already has enough problems from gambling. We don’t need any more.

Interim Report on Taxes Hints at Cutting Exemptions, Increasing Gambling Taxes

January 4, 2018 | Posted in Gambling, Taxes | By

A week before Christmas, consultants for Arkansas’ Tax Reform and Relief Legislative Task Force released an interim report analyzing the state’s tax structures.

The report is some 180 pages long, and touches on everything from motor fuel taxes to K-12 education funding.

The report does not make any final recommendations about tax policies, but it does contain a few elements we find troubling.

#1. The Report Hints at Cutting Charitable Tax Exemptions

Under Arkansas law, sales to nonprofit hospitals, sanitariums, and nursing homes are exempt from state sales tax.

The report says exemptions like this one “significantly erode the state and local tax base.” In other words, the state’s consultants seem to think Arkansas might have a lot more tax revenue to work with if it started taxing sales to these charities.

The report refers to this exemption as a “prime candidate for review” by the Arkansas Legislature. It also highlights sales tax exemptions on churches and other nonprofits.

Charities and churches contribute at least $378 billion to the U.S. economy each year — and possibly much more than that, according to some estimates.

Many charities operate on budgets that are so tight they likely would have to shut their doors if they were taxed at the same rate as for-profit corporations. However, this report by the state’s consultants could lead some to conclude the State of Arkansas would somehow be better off if it taxed charitable organizations. That’s a dangerous conclusion.

#2. The Report Hints That Gambling Might Be a Good Source of Tax Revenue

The report notes that many states are turning to legalized sports betting as a source of tax revenue, and says,

While most excise taxes have shown little growth in recent years, the revenue from electronic games of skill [the casino games operated in Hot Springs and West Memphis] is a notable exception. Revenue generated by the tax shows a strong upward trend in recent years. Since 2012, revenues have more than doubled.

This hints that Arkansas might somehow reap more tax revenue if it legalized more gambling. However, no state has gambled and taxed its way to economic prosperity.

The Arkansas Lottery pulls hundreds of millions of dollars out of the state and local economy each year; casinos and other forms of gambling do the very same thing. As we noted a few years ago, poverty levels are above average in parts of Mississippi, Arkansas, and Oklahoma that have casinos.

What’s more, many experts will tell you the social and economic cost of gambling dwarfs any tax revenue the state might glean. The bottom line: Arkansas won’t improve its economy or its state budget by legalizing more gambling.

Conclusion

This report is not the final word on Arkansas’ tax policies. However, it could lead some to believe Arkansas might benefit by taxing charities and legalizing more gambling. Arkansans should think twice before venturing down that road.

You can read the entire interim report here.