The Arkansas Racing Commission has approved 25 rules on casinos including Rule 2 which would require a letter of support for a casino from the current county judge and mayor.
This means the letters submitted from the former Pope County Judge and Russellville Mayor wont count. Before leaving his position as Pope County judge, Jim Ed Gibson announced a deal with a casino operator from Mississippi.
Johnson County leaders are hopeful for a casino that was planned to be built in Pope County.
“You know, I don’t drink and I don’t gamble, but when you’re county judge, you represent all the people,” said Johnson County Judge Herman Houston. “I say with open arms, we need a casino resort. We’ve got to have jobs.”
The commission met Thursday where they approved the 25 rules. They only made minor changes.
Nearly 200 public comments were submitted to the commission and about 95 percent of those came from Pope County residents.
Judge Herman Houston hopes the commission will allow a casino in Johnson County. At the meeting, he said he wants it because it will bring jobs to the county.
State Representative Aaron Pilkington said at the meeting that he would propose legislation that would change the amendment and replace Pope County with Johnson. But that will need two-thirds support in the Arkansas House and Senate.
“It does solve a lot of problems,” Pilkington said. “I believe we will have the votes.”
The commission also adopted Rule 20, the sportsbook proposal that will allow sports betting in the stat eon the premises of casinos. They did eliminate the sub-rule that would allow election betting. Each casino will have to go a step further by submitting their sports betting program for the commission to approve.