Racing commission votes to grant Pope County casino license to Cherokee Nation Businesses

State News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The ongoing back-and-forth over who would run a casino in Pope County seems to have come to an end.

The Arkansas Racing Commission on Friday confirmed the recommendation from the Attorney General’s office to void the license to run a casino in the River Valley county awarded earlier to the Gulfside Casino Partnership.

The commission will now begin the process of formally issuing a license to Legends, a firm owned by Cherokee Nation Businesses.

Last month the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled Gulfside was not eligible, determining that the group did not have letters of support from officials who were in office at the time the applications opened. Instead, the company had support from city and county officials who were out of office.

That ruling was lauded at the time by current Pope County Judge Ben Cross, who said the decision by the court was a welcome one and that the plan from CNB will be a financial boom the county.

Arkansas Racing Commission spokesperson Scott Hardin noted that the agency will be refunding the $250,000 licensing fee to Gulfside and accepting one from Legends.

The casino would be the fourth built in the state after Arkansans passed Amendment 100 in November 2018.

Hardin noted that the other three are in full operations. The casinos in West Memphis, Hot Springs and Pine Bluff have seen great success and have even already begun expanding.

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