POPE COUNTY, Ark. — The rules on casinos in Arkansas could officially be in place as early as next week. More than 160 public comments were submitted and on Thursday, Feb. 20, the Arkansas Racing Commission will either accept or reject the proposed rules.
About 95 percent of the comments came out of Pope County. Most of those opposed a casino going there.
In Pope County, it is still uncertain if they’ll get a casino.
The former county judge and mayor issued letters of support, but the current leaders don’t support it. Now whatever rules are put in place could determine what happens.
"You look at Pope County, it is a big question mark," said Arkansas Racing Commission Spokesperson Scott Hardin.
In a 15 page document submitted to the Arkansas Racing Commission, the attorney for Gulfside Casino, which is hoping to open in Pope County, claims the commission is legally required to issue a casino license there based on how the amendment was written.
The proposed rules state that letters of support would have to be written from the current county judge and mayor. If those rules are accepted, a casino going to Pope County is unlikely anytime soon.
"You have such significant amount of public opposition, you have something likely to end up in the court system, this is not something that will be resolved tomorrow," Hardin said.
Leaders in Johnson County are expressing interest in the casino that Pope County leaders don’t want. Whether that could happen is still uncertain since it would require a change to the amendment.
“It’s not going to happen quickly. There’s a question if that’s even possible," Hardin said.
Another letter comes from four state college athletic directors sharing concerns on the proposed sports betting rules. They want to make sure their coaches, staff, and players are protected from exploitation and certain bets that put their integrity at risk.
The Racing Commission will either accept or reject the proposed rules at the meeting at 11 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 21. It’s being held at the Department of Finance and Administration meeting room in Little Rock.