LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A move to block the development of casino in Pope County hit a new block Monday, this one from the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office.

A state constitutional amendment proposed by the group Fair Play Arkansas looked to remove the authorization for a casino in Pope County, despite state voters approving the plan in the 2018 election.

In a letter Monday, Secretary of State John Thurston stated that the petition submitted by Fair Play Arkansas to get the amendment on the November ballot only had 62,859 signatures. State law requires 89,151 signatures for an amendment to make this year’s ballot.

Thurston did not that there is a lower threshold for an initiative to hit a “cure period,” in which an amendment to the petition submission can be made. However, that threshold for the current year is 66,864, more than 4,000 signatures above the total turned in by the group.

The ballot initiative was rejected by the state board of electors last week due to its language.

Fair Play Arkansas may still file a lawsuit with the Arkansas Supreme Court to have the decisions overturned.

Representatives of the group Cherokee Nation Businesses, which has been planning to build the casino, supported today’s decision.

David Couch, Attorney for Cherokee Nation Businesses and The Arkansas Tourism Alliance stated: “For the first time in Arkansas history, voters were well-informed on the ballot initiative and its effects prior to being approached by canvassers. Our grassroots and digital voter education efforts led many to decline to sign Fair Play’s petition, ultimately resulting in its failure to get the measure on the ballot.”

Chuck Garrett, CEO, Cherokee Nation Businesses: “Strong progress continues to be made on our plans for the first-class Legends Resort & Casino, including the acquisition of more than 180 acres of land. We look forward to making some big project announcements in the coming months, including our Arkansas-based construction manager and architect. We expect pending litigation to be resolved expeditiously and look forward to starting construction so that Pope County and the state of Arkansas can begin experiencing the economic benefits of our project.”