Editor’s note: Roby Brock, with our content partner Talk Business, wrote this report. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The eighth time might be the charm, and it might deliver the chance for a casino operation in Sebastian County.
A Texas businessman’s effort to allow for 24-hour, 7 days a week casino gambling in seven Arkansas counties has been given the green light to move forward by Attorney General Dustin McDaniel (D).
McDaniel on Wednesday (Nov. 16) certified the ballot title of Michael Wasserman’s proposed constitutional amendment to allow for his for-profit Arkansas Hotels and Entertainment Inc. to own and operate casinos in Sebastian, Pulaski, Garland, Miller, Crittenden, Boone and Jefferson counties.
“In my view, the purpose of your proposed measure is sufficiently stated in the above revised ballot title to satisfy this office’s mandate under A.C.A. § 7-9-107. I believe a cautionary note is warranted, however, due to the significance of the subject matter undertaken, i.e., taxation and legalized gaming, and the complexity and far-reaching effects of this amendment. You should be aware that according to my experience there is a direct correlation between the length and complexity of initiated constitutional amendments and their susceptibility to a successful ballot title challenge. Any ambiguity in the text of a measure could lead to a successful challenge. That is why I urge you, if you have not already done so, to consult private counsel in order to be assured that the stated purpose is accomplished by the text of your proposal.”
With AG approval, Wasserman can now seek to collect the signatures from 78,133 registered Arkansas voters needed to qualify the measure for the November 2012 election. The signatures must be turned into the Secretary of State’s office by July 6, 2012 to be verified.
Wasserman has sought approval of a casino amendment in the past. The Attorney General’s office has rejected 4 ballot title requests and approved 3 titles.
During 2010, Wasserman was collecting signatures after receiving AG approval, but never submitted them for review.
How profitable could casino gambling be in Arkansas? It would certainly be met with objections from the state’s current casino-style gaming centers at West Memphis-based Southland and Hot Springs-based Oaklawn.
This year, casino gambling at those 2 venues is on track to near nearly $2 billion in wagers.