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.
On Monday Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge rejected a proposed state constitutional amendment establishing four casinos in Arkansas.
The proposal is similar to one the A.G.’s office rejected last month.
Supporters of the measure want to circulate petitions to place the amendment on the November ballot. If passed, the amendment would authorize casinos in Jefferson, Garland, Crittenden, and Pope counties.
The measure also would legalize sports betting at these casinos if federal laws against sports betting change.
The A.G.’s office said the amendment’s popular name was too long to be useful and that its ballot title did not accurately reflect the measure.
The A.G.’s office also noted that the ballot title itself appeared too long. In the past courts have indicated that ballot titles must be short enough that voters can read and understand them in a reasonable amount of time while in the voting booth.
We applaud Attorney General Rutledge and her team for rejecting this casino amendment. Gambling is a blight on the community. It preys on the poor and hurts families. These are problems Arkansas simply does not need.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 25, 2018
Little Rock, Ark. – On Thursday the Arkansas Attorney General rejected wording for a ballot proposal authorizing casinos in three counties in Arkansas.
Family Council President Jerry Cox issued a statement saying, “I am glad Attorney General Rutledge rejected this measure. This amendment is so bad it’s hard to know where to begin. Casinos prey on the poor, but this amendment deliberately builds casinos in some of Arkansas’ poorest counties. In fact, it actually prohibits casinos in prosperous counties in central and northwest Arkansas. Why would they want to put casinos in the poorest parts of the state? That’s just going to entice poor people to gamble away what little money they have.”
Cox also said the amendment benefits gambling corporations from other states. “The way the amendment is written, wealthy companies who have experience running casinos elsewhere are the only ones who would be eligible to operate casinos in Arkansas. That’s going to favor big gambling corporations from other states who are looking to expand business. Local people won’t be the ones who own the casinos. Exactly how does that drive Arkansas forward?”
Cox also pointed out the tax rate the amendment imposes on casinos is well below the national average. “Most states tax casinos at a rate of twenty-percent to fifty-percent or more. Under this amendment, casinos in Arkansas would be taxed at twelve-percent. That means casinos in Arkansas would not generate as much tax revenue as they do in other states.”
Cox said in the end casinos will not improve Arkansas’ economy. “Just look at Mississippi and Oklahoma. Their counties that have casinos also have high levels of poverty. Arkansas already has casinos in Garland and Crittenden counties. Garland Count’s poverty rate is forty-percent higher than nearby Saline County’s. Crittenden’s poverty levels are some of the highest in the state. You can’t gamble and tax your way to prosperity.
“And what about the social cost? Casino gambling is linked to homelessness, domestic violence, divorce, and bankruptcy. Supporters say the amendment will improve Arkansas’ roads. If any roads get improved, the poor will be the ones paying for it, and the best roads in town probably will be the ones leading to the casino.”
Family Council is a conservative education and research organization based in Little Rock.
Photo Credit: By Brian Turner (Flickr: My Trusty Gavel) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.