The state of Arkansas has recently passed Issue 4. This is a constitutional amendment that pertains to casino gambling. Recently, 87% of the precincts in Arkansas reported voting, the voting was 46% against Issue 4 and 54% were for the amendment.
The issue calls for four licenses issued to permit casino gaming at casino facilities. The casinos are in Crittenden, Garland, Jefferson, and Pope counties. Issue 4 also adds a section to the state’s constitution that will permit all four of the casinos to to operate in Arkansas legally.
What Does Issue 4 Entail?
The passage of Issue 4 means that all four of the casinos can operate in Arkansas, but each casino is close to other major areas. For instance, the casino in Jefferson County is in two miles of Pine Bluff and the casino in Pope County is just two miles from Russellville. There is also one casino adjacent to the Oaklawn Jockey Club, located in Garland County and another facility at or near Crittenden County’s Southland Racing Corporation.
Issue 4 also defines the kind of casino gaming that can take place at the casinos. Under the new amendment, people under 21 are not allowed to gamble at the casinos. Under the amendment, the Arkansas Racing Commission will regulate the operation and licensing of all casinos in the state. The legislature will also be required to enforce all relevant laws and appropriate the funds that the Racing Commission utilizes.
Who Can Be Licensed?
Issue 4 also establishes the requirements for individuals who want to receive casino licenses in Pope and Jefferson counties. The act requires those with a license to conduct gaming at their facilities for as long as the license is valid. The casinos will be allowed to operate any day, at any time.
The Arkansas Racing Commission also has to fund and work in partnership with the Department of Human Services to provide educational programs for compulsive gamblers. This also means that the Department of Human Services can create the rules for the programs and must administer the curriculum.
Taxes and Amenities
Issue 4 will also establish tax rates on casino game net receipts and will determine how the winnings are distributed. Operators for horse and greyhound racing have to contribute to awards and raising purses, and Southland is required to set aside funds to improve the racing facilities as needed. It will be established that Issue 4 won’t affect the current horse and greyhound racing regulations. This also applies to raffles, bingo, the Arkansas scholarship lottery and electronic games of skill.
The act also means that casinos are permitted to serve alcohol during operating hours, even if the casino is in a dry county or city. However, casinos have to purchase alcohol from a licensed wholesaler in Arkansas.
Gaming devices are also able to be legally shipped to all casinos in the state.
It is important to note that Issue 4 also states that any Arkansas laws that contradict the amendment will not apply to Issue 4. The amendment comes after 18 years of not having full-fledged authorized casinos in Arkansas. While there are plenty of citizens who support the amendment and almost an equal amount of those who don’t, both sides are somewhat skeptical.
One voter, Mary Jo Woorley, summed up why Issue 4 could prove to be a good idea for the state. She argues that people who live in Arkansas can easily go right across the border to Mississippi to gamble. Since it’s so easy to find a casino, the money from gaming may as well go to fund state-specific initiatives.
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