Casino amendment supporters fall short on signatures, have until Aug. 24 for ‘cure period’

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 483 views 

Organizers of the proposed amendment to expand gambling in Arkansas fell almost 15,000 signatures short, but have until Aug. 24 to submit more signatures or challenge rejected signatures, according to a notice issued Wednesday (July 25) by the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office.

Officials with Driving Arkansas Forward filed the amendment Feb. 26. It would authorize two new casinos – one in Jefferson County and one in Pope County – while enhancing the gaming operations at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs and Southland Park Gaming and Racing in West Memphis.

“Applicants for casino licenses in Jefferson and Pope counties would be required to obtain the support of county and municipal officials in order to submit an application. Oaklawn and Southland, which now offer electronic games of skill, could expand and enhance those offerings to include traditional casino gaming. All four sites would be permitted to offer any gaming now allowed under federal law, including sports wagering,” noted a statement from the group.

The Arkansas Casino Gaming Amendment of 2018 ballot title and proposal was approved in late May by Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.

Driving Arkansas Forward submitted 94,880 signatures on July 6, with 84,859 valid signatures required for the amendment to be placed on the November general election ballot.

Leslie Bellamy, director of election for the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office, said in her letter to Driving Arkansas Forward representative Nate Steel that 70,054 signatures were certified. Bellamy said the group has until the close of business on Aug. 24 to submit new signatures and/or challenge the rejection of previously submitted signatures.

Other groups have signature reviews pending. Arkansas Term Limits, a group wanting to impose a 10-year overall limit on state legislative service, turned in 135,590 signatures – well over the 84,859 needed. A group supporting a raise in the minimum wage turned in 69,413 signatures for its initiated act. The measure, which would raise the $8.50 per hour state minimum wage to $12.00 per hour by 2022, needs to secure 67,887 signatures to move forward.