In the southern American state of Arkansas and an entity known as Gulfside Casino Partnership has reportedly been given official permission to build and operate a new $254 million resort casino being envisioned for Pope County.
According to a Wednesday report from the Arkansas Times newspaper, the five-member Arkansas Racing Commission initially awarded the license to the Mississippi-based entity at the expense of the federally-recognized Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma last summer. The regulator has now purportedly endorsed this earlier judgement by a unanimous decision to grant Gulfside Casino Partnership the right to begin work on a project that it estimates could bring as many as 1,500 full-time jobs and up to $60 million in annual payroll to one of the poorest regions of ‘The Natural State’.
The newspaper reported that such a Pope County facility was made possible after voters narrowly passed an enabling statewide constitutional amendment in November of 2018 to legalize up to four casinos. This subsequently enabled Oaklawn Racing and Gaming in the city of Hot Springs as well as West Memphis’ Southland Park Gaming and Racing to be transformed into fully-fledged casinos while Oklahoma’s Quapaw Nation recently premiered the $350 million first phase of its Saracen Resort Casino in rural Jefferson County.
The Arkansas Times reported that the new casino operator is now said to be considering whether to follow the example of the federally-recognized Quapaw Nation in opening a temporary gambling facility on the site of its envisioned River Valley Casino Resort. Casey Castleberry, an attorney employed by Gulfside Casino Partnership, purportedly detailed that such a move would allow the operator to kick-start a business that it eventually hopes will bring in roughly $29 million in annual gaming tax revenues.
Castleberry reportedly told the newspaper…
“We are moving forward with our plans to build our first-class River Valley Casino Resort, an entertainment and economic destination for Russellville, Pope County and the state.”
However, the Arkansas Times reported that the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma is not happy with the decision and intends to launch legal proceedings against the award over claims that last year’s selection process had been biased. Dustin McDaniel serves as a legal representative for the tribe’s casino-operating Cherokee Nation Businesses enterprise and he purportedly pronounced that his client will be furthermore arguing that Gulfside Casino Partnership did not comply with the tenets of the state’s constitution by first obtaining approval for its planned resort casino from locally-elected officials.
Reportedly read a statement from McDaniel…
“Our administrative procedures act appeal will be filed soon and it will highlight the points addressed in the objections and orders entered. The Arkansas Racing Commission violated its own rules governing acceptance and scoring of license applications, disregarded the analysis of its outside consultant who said that [the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma] was the superior applicant in every respect, unlawfully altered the scores rendered by its review panel and overlooked substantial evidence that Gulfside Casino Partnership and its owners intentionally withheld evidence of their past bankruptcies, criminal investigations and ineligibility for licensure in Mississippi.”