Casino amendment supporters submit 97,000 signatures

by Steve Brawner ([email protected]) 605 views 

Supporters of a proposed constitutional amendment expanding casino gaming submitted 97,000 signatures to the Arkansas secretary of state’s office Monday (July 6), the deadline to qualify for the November 2020 ballot.

The group was required to collect 89,151 verified signatures of registered voters. By crossing that threshold, the effort will qualify for a 30-day cure period giving it time to collect additional signatures if needed. The secretary of state will validate that the signatures come from eligible registered voters.

If passed by voters in November, the Arkansas Wins in 2020 initiative would require the Arkansas Racing Commission to issue casino gaming licenses to 16 casinos. Two would be in Pulaski County and would be owned by Little Rock 1 Gaming Associates and Little Rock 2 Gaming Associates. Two would be in Crittenden County and would be owned by West Memphis 1 Gaming Associates and West Memphis 2 Gaming Associates.

The other 12 would be located one apiece in the following counties:

– Benton County, to be owned by G-First Ark Gaming
– Boone County, to be owned by Boone County Gaming
– Chicot County, to be owned by Lake Village Gaming Associates
– Garland County, to be owned by Garland County Gaming Associates
– Greene County, to be owned by ASC Transaction Facility
– Jefferson County, to be owned by Pine Bluff Gaming Associates
– Johnson County, to be owned by Clarksville Gaming Associates
– Miller County, to be owned by Texarkana Gaming Associates
– Nevada County, to be owned by Prescott Gaming Associates
– Sebastian County, to be owned by Ft. Smith Gaming Associates
– St. Francis County, to be owned by Forrest City Gaming
– Washington County, to be owned by Fayetteville Gaming Associates

The amendment doesn’t identify the various groups that would own the casinos. The campaign’s chairman is Doug Meyer, according to the committee’s statement of organization filed with the Arkansas Ethics Commission.

The amendment says net casino gaming receipts would be subject to a tax of 13% on the first $150 million and 20% on receipts exceeding that amount, with no other tax allowed on gaming receipts or net casino gaming receipts. Casinos would be subject to other forms of taxation other than sales and gross receipts taxes.

It says that 55% of the tax shall be distributed to the state’s general revenue fund, 15% to the city where the casino is located and 15% to the county where the casino is located, and 15% to all other counties that do not have a license. If a casino is not located in a city, then the host county would receive the entire 30%.

Casinos could operate at all hours and could sell liquor at all hours, including in dry counties or cities, which would not be allowed to vote to curtail liquor sales. The amendment would allow wagers on sporting events.

The amendment states that “all constitutional provisions, statutes, and common law of the state that conflict with this amendment are not to be applied to this amendment.” The amendment says it does not amend Amendment 100, which was passed by voters in 2018 to allow casino gaming in Pope and Jefferson Counties, to the extent that it doesn’t conflict with the Arkansas Wins amendment.

Casino license fees would be $250,000, levied one time. Licenses would be awarded no later than June 1, 2021.