The Arkansas Racing Commission wants to present its initial draft legislation to allow Arkansas’ first fully fledged casinos, next month.
The plan is to introduce four casino licences with emergency applications being considered as a way of speeding up the process. Casinos would be allowed in Jefferson and Pope counties and at Southland Gaming & Racing in West Memphis and Oaklawn Racing & Gaming in Hot Springs, allowing the two latter venues to become fully fledged casinos.
The commission’s attorney, Byron Freeland, revealed that the regulations must be approved by March 14, 120 days after the effective date of the Arkansas Constitution’s Amendment 100, with the plan being to look to Las Vegas as a guide of how to regulate. The new legislation would need to be approved by legislative review, the governor and the state Department of Finance and Administration.
“Nevada is really considered to be the industry gold standard,” Mr. Freeland said.
Executives in Jefferson County are keen for Downstream Development Authority, a division of the Quapaw Nation, to develop the Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff. The Quapaw Nation already run the Quapaw Casino and the Downstream Casino Resort, both located in neighbouring Oklahoma.
John Berrey, Chairman of Downstream and the Quapaw Nation, said: “It has long been our goal to energize Pine Bluff and Jefferson County through a significant economic investment. As the original homeland for the Quapaw Nation, we believe we have an obligation to the region to be good corporate citizens. This casino resort will be a source of pride for the community. It will create hundreds of jobs and generate millions of dollars in taxes that will help improve the city’s and county’s infrastructure and quality of life.”
Oaklawn Racing and Gaming said it would spend $100m on an expansion project to include the addition of approximately 28,000 square feet of gaming space and the construction of a seven-story 200-room and suites hotel with an outdoor swimming pool, luxury spa, fitness center and restaurant alongside a 14,000 square-foot multi-purpose events center and more.
Pope County would need voter support to allow it to move forward with plans for a casino.