Last week Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge rejected a proposed constitutional amendment legalizing casinos in Arkansas.
The A.G. called the proposal’s ballot title, “very confusing to the point of being nonsensical.”
As far as we can tell, the proposal effectively would have allowed casinos in any municipality with a population greater than 20,000 people.
This is not the first time efforts have been made to bring casino gambling to Arkansas. In 2005 the Arkansas Legislature passed legislation paving the way for “electronic games of skill” at Arkansas’ racetracks; these games look and function much like traditional casino games.
Constitutional amendments legalizing casino gambling elsewhere in Arkansas have been proposed almost every election year–including last year.
There are no two ways about it: Gambling is a blight on the community; we have seen time and time again how it hurts families and ruins lives. That’s why we oppose any effort to expand gambling in Arkansas.
This week Family Council wrote a letter to U.S. Senator Tom Cotton thanking him for co-sponsoring S. 1668, a federal law that cracks down on predatory Internet gambling.
Internet gambling is an Arkansas issue. The Arkansas Casinos Amendment that will appear on the November ballot arguably authorizes online casinos in Arkansas. It permits any gambling that is permitted in a number of other states, including Nevada, which has had Internet gambling since 2013.
Family Council always has opposed gambling—especially Internet gambling and any other type of gambling that may harm children. Evidence overwhelmingly shows compulsive gambling is higher among Internet gamblers than non-Internet gamblers, and minors who gamble are at greater risk of developing a gambling disorder.
The ability to gamble easily, quickly, and anonymously at home via multiple games or websites makes Internet gambling more dangerous than other forms of gambling.
We are grateful to U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton for his stance against predatory Internet gambling.
The following is a press release from Family Council Action Committee.
On Friday Arkansas Wins in 2016 submitted petition signatures to the Arkansas Secretary of State requesting certification to place a casino amendment on the November ballot.
Family Council Action Committee Executive Director Jerry Cox released a statement against the amendment, saying, “This amendment allows a group of Missouri businessmen to write themselves and their gambling operation into the Arkansas Constitution.”
Cox said, “This amendment creates a monopoly allowing out-of-state businessmen to build casinos in Texarkana, Fayetteville, and Harrison. That’s bad enough, but the fact that no one else would be allowed to do the same creates a monopoly of the worst sort. Even if every voter in these cities opposes the casinos, they could still be built if the amendment passes in the statewide vote this November.”
Cox said the amendment lets casinos operate without enough accountability. “The way the amendment is written the Arkansas Legislature won’t be able to regulate them. It specifically states that any kind of gambling that is legal in Nevada and in several other states must be allowed at these casinos. In 10 or 20 years, there is not telling what kind of gambling they will be doing in Nevada and other states, but whatever it is, it will be allowed right here in Arkansas.”
Cox noted that casino gambling has not been an economic boon elsewhere. “Tunica County, Mississippi, has nine casinos. Just across the Mississippi River in Lee County, Arkansas, there are no casinos. The poverty levels in these two counties is almost identical. It’s the same with casinos in Oklahoma. At best their economy is stagnant. On the downside, communities with casinos see higher rates of bankruptcy, higher crime rates, higher divorce rates, and a greater need for community services to assist women and children in need. It’s no coincidence that pawn shops are usually next door to casinos. Arkansas won’t be any different. This is an industry that preys on poor people.”
Family Council Action Committee is a conservative 501(c)(4) organization based in Little Rock, Arkansas.