Pope County Quorum Court Caves to Casinos

This week the Pope County Quorum Court voted to repeal a local ordinance that requires voter approval before a casino can be built in the county.

Amendment 100 to the Arkansas Constitution passed in 2018 authorizes casinos in Jefferson County and Pope County, and it converts the racetracks in Garland and Crittenden counties into full-fledged casinos.

Last November voters in Pope County soundly rejected the casino amendment and overwhelmingly supported a local ordinance that requires county officials to let voters decide first whether or not to authorize a casino in the county.

Earlier this year the quorum court endorsed a casino proposal from the Cherokee Nation without first putting the matter to the voters. That decision prompted a lawsuit from citizens in Pope County.

The quorum court apparently voted to repeal the ordinance this week in an effort to undercut that lawsuit.

The day after the quorum court voted to repeal the ordinance, a circuit judge declared the ordinance unconstitutional, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Under normal circumstances, the judge’s bad ruling on the ordinance could be appealed to a higher court. Since the quorum court voted to repeal the ordinance, there’s really no point in asking a higher court to overturn the judge’s ruling.

The quorum court’s decision paves the way for a casino corporation from out of state to open a casino in Russellville.

That’s clearly not what voters want, based on last November’s election, and it’s going to hurt the community.

Meanwhile the Quapaw Tribe is operating slot machines at its “casino annex” in Pine Bluff, and a group is working to legalize casino-style games under Arkansas’ state lottery.

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.

Quapaw Install Gambling Machines at “Casino Annex” in Pine Bluff

According to KATV, the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma has begun installing 300 gambling machines in its Pine Bluff “casino annex” located across the street from its main casino building that is currently under construction.

The main casino will open next year, but the “casino annex” — a mini casino across the street — will open in a few weeks.

I’m not sure voters imagined that casinos would be able to operate gambling machines in different buildings in town when the casino amendment passed last year, but apparently that’s what is happening.

It’s worth pointing out that by some estimates state and local government spend up to $10 in social services for every $1 received in tax revenue from casino gambling.

Gambling is linked to divorce, bankruptcy, homelessness, domestic violence, and a host of other problems that hurt families. Casino tax money simply cannot compensate for the toll gambling take on a community.