POPE COUNTY, Ark. – There is more casino controversy in Pope County. Friday, an attorney for Cherokee Nation Businesses sent a letter to the Racing Commissioner chainman claiming there was bias by another commissioner during scoring on Thursday. 

In that meeting, it was decided Gulfside Casino Partnership would get the casino license over Cherokee Nation Businesses. 

Many in the Pope County community say they are shocked by the Racing Commissioners decision to start the process of giving the sole Pope County casino license to Gulfside Casino Partnership. 

“Obviously Gulfside doesn’t have the support in the community like CNB does,” community member Michael Ford said. 

Ford, a member of the group Pope County majority that supports a casino, says most people wanted Cherokee Nation Businesses – Legends Resort & Casino. They say the company has been boots on the ground in the community for over a year. 

“They are like family to us now. Everyone in Pope County is Legends. Gulfside, they haven’t been around,” Ford said. 

“They been here through the big flood last year, they were here for food pantries, Christmas, you name it they have put it into this community,” Rickey Hart said. 

Hart, another member of the group says, he’s reached out to Gulfside throughout the process with no response.

“Gulfside, I never heard a word from them. None of us have. I’ve reached out to them. All the other vendors got back to me, Gulfside never spoke a word to me through any email,” Hart said. 

After the Racing Commission’s decision Thursday, Terry Green, the Gulfside Casino Partnership co-owner says he hopes to eventually get support from people in Pope County. 

“Once we get this casino up and running I think the majority of people will see what we’re going and people will get on board,” Green said. 

“Pope County is a family-oriented community, and that’s what we wanted, we didn’t want just a gambling hall,” said Ford. 

Click below to read a letter sent form the Cherokee Nation Businesses to the Arkansas Racing Commission about the ongoing decision on the casino.


LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- The Arkansas Racing Commission has given Gulfside Casino Partnership the highest score on the Pope County casino proposal.

This means Gulfside Casino Partnership will likely be awarded the sole casino license in Pope County.

Cherokee Nation Business has 15 days to ask for a second hearing.

Here is the full statement from Ben Cross, Pope County Judge:

“From the onset of this issue, which was squarely placed into motion by my predecessor, I have diligently attempted to navigate the county to the best possible outcome of a situation for which we did not create.  In doing so, I believe we acted with sincere intention to prepare the county for the inevitable reality of a casino being placed in Pope County.  The lengthy process and time it took for our selection of CNB / Legends as the operator of choice, was our attempt to show the Commission our selection did not come without thorough scrutiny and vetting.  CNB / Legends openness to provide necessary financial stimulus prior to construction, allowing time for our infrastructure to develop comparatively, was historical in the realm of commercial development.  As I have openly stated throughout this process, I will continue to honor the decisions of the litigation that will ultimately settle this issue, but at the same time, I remain disappointed at the lack of consideration for the local choice that was affected by today’s decision.”

To see the commission score sheets, click here.


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Arkansas Racing Commission will meet Thursday morning.

The panel will hear from representatives of two casino companies hoping to get the sole casino license in Pope County.

The two companies are Cherokee Nation Businesses and Gulfside Casino Partnership.

To watch the meeting live, click here.