LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Arkansas Supreme Court has disqualified a proposal to legalize casinos in three counties from the November ballot.
Justices on Thursday sided with opponents of the proposed constitutional amendment that would give three private companies rights to run casinos in Boone, Miller, and Washington counties. The proposal would have given the rights to companies owned by supporters of the proposal. The court ordered election officials to not count any votes for the measure in the November 8 election.
The court ruled that the ballot title "does not honestly and accurately reflect what is contained in the proposed amendment."
The lawsuit was filed a group funded by dog and horse tracks in the state that currently offer video poker and other forms of electronic gambling. The lawsuit claimed the proposal was misleading to voters and that supporters didn't follow state law for reporting and registering paid canvassers.
Supporters and opponents of an effort to legalize casinos in three Arkansas counties have spent more than $2 million to air television ads on the issue ahead of the November election.
Data released Thursday by the Center for Public Integrity show more than 2,333 ads have aired over the proposed amendment to legalize casinos in Boone, Miller and Washington counties.
Protect Arkansas Values/Stop Casinos Now, the group opposed to the measure, has spent more than $1.2 million on ads. Arkansas Wins in 2016, the pro-casinos group, has spent more than $1 million.
“We would like to thank all the elected officials and business leaders who spoke out against this amendment," said Joel Coon with Protect Arkansas Values in a released statement.
Robert Coon, spokesperson for Arkansas Wins said in a statement, he said he is disappointed in the court's decision and feels it's a shame the voters of Arkansas are being denied the opportunity to vote on the amendment.
The figures don't include ads that aired on cable television, radio or online. The figures exceed the nearly $1.3 million that was spent earlier this year on a pair of state Supreme Court races.
Arkansas Wins has five days to appeal the decision.