LITTLE ROCK, AR - A group looking to start casinos in Arkansas began collecting signatures Friday to get on the November ballot. But those behind the idea for a "poker palace" already face opposition.
From playing the ponies at Oaklawn Jockey Club in Hot Springs to scratch off lottery tickets, Arkansas already has gambling. But not in it's most visible form, casinos.
Nancy Todd heads up Nancy Todd's Poker Palace
, a Las Vegas based company that wants to build four casinos in Arkansas.
"I don't think people should have to drive three hours in order to play poker,” Todd says. “You've got a fabulous, beautiful state. You've got everything in my humble opinion except poker."
The ballot initiative calls for one casino each in Miller, Franklin, Pulaski and Crittenden county.
"You're surrounded by gaming. You've got half a billion dollars that leaves Arkansas every year, goes all the way around you,” Todd says.
Jerry Cox with Arkansas Family Council opposes the plan, which still requires over 78,133 signatures by July in order to appear on the ballot this fall.
"These are full blown casinos that these people want to bring to Arkansas. And they're not doing that to do us in Arkansas a favor," Cox says.
Supporters of the idea hope recent history is a proving ground for future success, given that Arkansas said yes to a lottery in 2008.
"There's a big difference between casinos and a lottery,” Cox says. “The lottery passed primarily because it would benefit students who want to go to college."
Todd feels Arkansas is primed to bring casinos in.
"I absolutely wouldn't be standing here today talking to you and venturing on this journey if I didn't think it would be 100% successful," Todd says.
Todd says she would like to build a "poker palace" that would cater to poker players across the nation. And build an entertainment complex in Pulaski County to host other events.