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Arkansas Says Yes To Casinos, Passing Ballot Initiative

Issue 4 Passes With 54 Percent Of The Vote, Governor Disappointed

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On Tuesday, voters in Arkansas passed Issue 4, a constitutional amendment that grants casino licenses to four operators in various counties.

The measure passed with 54 percent of the vote. Supporters claim the move will help curb the money that regularly exits Arkansas to neighboring states with licensed gambling facilities. Approximately 30 percent of state residents surveyed said they regularly engaged in casino gaming outside of the Arkansas.

The four licenses will now be awarded to the existing Southland Racing Corporation in Crittenden County, the existing Oaklawn Jockey Club in Garland County, and two new applicants for future projects in Pope County and Jefferson County.

Despite support from state residents, Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson was disappointed by the results.

“I did not support this initiative, and I continue to have great concern over the immediate and negative impact on the state’s budget,” he said in a written statement. “But the people have spoken, and I respect their will. Time will tell as to what this means for our state, and it remains to be seen as to whether the communities affected will consent to the gambling initiative.”

Under the new rules, casinos will be taxed 13 percent on the first $150 million in net gaming receipts, and 20 percent on any amount exceeding that. Officials believe the state can look forward to $120 million in annual tax revenue, 55 percent of which is earmarked for the general fund.