LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Latest on a ballot measure that would legalize casinos in three Arkansas counties (all times local):
Opponents of a casino legalization proposal disqualified by the Arkansas Supreme Court say the ruling sends a message to companies who want to write special rights for themselves into the state constitution. Casino supporters say the decision will prevent voters from taking up a proposal that would create thousands of new jobs.
Chuck Lange, the chairman of Protect Arkansas Values/Stop Casinos Now, said he was pleased that justices agreed Thursday with his group’s argument that the proposed constitutional amendment was misleading to voters. Lange’s group was funded by a Hot Springs horse track and a West Memphis dog track that offer video poker and other forms of electronic gambling.
Robert Coon, a spokesman for Arkansas Wins in 2016, said he was disappointed in the decision and that it would deny Arkansans the chance to vote on a proposal that he projected would create $122 million in additional annual tax revenue for the state.
The Arkansas Supreme Court has disqualified a proposal to legalize casinos in three counties from the November ballot.
Justices on Thursday sided with opponents of the proposed constitutional amendment that would give three private companies rights to run casinos in Boone, Miller and Washington counties. The proposal would have given the rights to companies owned by supporters of the proposal. The court ordered election officials to not count any votes for the measure in the Nov. 8 election.
The court ruled that the ballot title “does not honestly and accurately reflect what is contained in the proposed amendment.”
The lawsuit was filed a group funded by dog and horse tracks in the state that currently offer video poker and other forms of electronic gambling. The lawsuit claimed the proposal was misleading to voters and that supporters didn’t follow state law for reporting and registering paid canvassers.
Supporters and opponents of an effort to legalize casinos in three Arkansas counties have spent more than $2 million to air television ads on the issue ahead of the November election.
Data released Thursday by the Center for Public Integrity show more than 2,333 ads have aired over the proposed amendment to legalize casinos in Boone, Miller and Washington counties.
Protect Arkansas Values/Stop Casinos Now, the group opposed to the measure, has spent more than $1.2 million on ads. Arkansas Wins in 2016, the pro-casinos group, has spent more than $1 million.
The figures don’t include ads that aired on cable television, radio or online. The figures exceed the nearly $1.3 million that was spent earlier this year on a pair of state Supreme Court races.