This state would soon have four casinos, fully operational in November 2018 as voters here approved Issue 4 which was part of midterm elections in this southern state.
Amendment to constitution
The report issued on Wednesday in Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, a local newspaper, stated that the verdict has altered the constitution of the state so that different places such as Oaklawn Racing and Gaming, Southland Park Gaming and Racing in West Memphis and in the Hot Springs City can be turned into full-scale casinos. Both facilities used to offer skill games based on electronic gadgets under prevailing state law issues in 2005. It has now allowed expansion of their portfolios which would include table games like blackjack and poker as well as sports betting.
Issue 4 passage would also see authorization of Arkansas Racing Commission, one more casino to be added each to Pope and Jefferson counties. This would be allowed as long as operators are willing to pay the license fee for an application that is of an amount of $250,000. They also need to demonstrate that they have experience in how casino gaming can be conducted. The amendment also mandates that the coming facilities need to be located within a distance of two miles of communities Pine Bluff and Russellville. Future licensees need to submit a letter of support received from county judge as well as resolution issued from a quorum county court.
Taxes as per Issue 4 passage indicate that the four upcoming casino sites would have their first net gaming annual receipts of the amount of $150,000 assessed at 13% rate and if there are subsequent earnings then they would be subjected to a duty percentage of 20%. Venues would also be able to operate round the clock and provide alcohol to those above the age of 21 even if they are located in a county or community termed “dry”.
The Arkansas Democrat Gazette reports that Tuesday voters who approved Issue 4 were 54.09% against a percentage of 45.91% that had cast votes in opposition to the same. The margin was a close one but it has definitely increased excitement since the state would be able to generate more jobs, retain back the tax dollars and see economic development which has been witnessed in the neighboring states like Oklahoma, Missouri, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
Opposition points out lack of economic earnings
Not everyone is in agreement of the verdict such as Jerry Cox who is president of the Family Council Action Committee, an anti-casino initiative, reported that most casinos have games designed to make it impossible to win and there is more money spent than earnings, pointing out that pro-gambling lobbies had spent $7 million simply to showcase benefits when Issue 4 is passed. Cox stated in Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that aggressive campaign would have been mounted against the pro-casino lobby but enough money was not provided for the same.
Acquiescence amidst doubts
Reports in the newspaper also showcase worries and comments of critics such as Asa Hutchinson, Arkansas Governor who has been most outspoken, stating that passage of this verdict would lead to fewer tax dollars, about $36 million less in 2020. The Republican who has been recently re-elected stated to newspaper sources that great concern exists over the negative and immediate impact of the decision that would show up on the state budget. However, the decision of voters would be respected.
Hutchinson stated that time will tell what it means for state welfare or coiffeurs and how the communities would be affected after the gambling initiative has been consented to.
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