Residents of Arkansas are set to vote for or against so-called “Issue 4” on Election Day, in order to decide whether some changes regarding casinos will be brought to the state’s Constitution. In case that Issue 4 is given the green light, the Arkansas Constitution would be amended in a way that is to officially allow four casinos to operate within the borders of the state.
Two brand-new casinos, one situated in close proximity to Pine Bluff and one near Russellville, are to be authorized under the provisions of Issue 4. In addition, the amendments that are to be brought to Arkansas Constitution in case that local voters say “yes” to Issue 4, would allow the two existing gambling facilities of the state, which are currently being run as part of Southland and Oaklawn racetracks in West Memphis and Hot Springs, respectively, to start operating as separate casinos.
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The proposed state’s constitutional amendment is important, as it has come to represent both in- and out-of-state gaming interests in order to see an increase in the revenue for local casino operators. Issue 4 was proposed by Driving Arkansas Forward, a group led by the former Democratic state Representative Nate Steel. The group has rolled out the proposed amendment as part of its efforts to boost the local economy, to create more jobs for Arkansas voters and to guarantee that casino tax money will be kept for state coffers.
Casino Gaming Tax Revenue to Be Kept in Arkansas
As mentioned above, for the time being, there are two gambling houses which do not operate as separate casinos, and are attached to the Southland greyhound track and the Oakland horse track.
For the time being, only electronic games of skill are allowed to be run at local racing tracks. Under the provisions of Issue 4, however, will allow games played with dice, cards, equipment, electronic, mechanical or electromechanical devices to be offered in the state. Sports betting will also be available in Arkansas if local voters approve the changes.
Despite the fact that Issue 4 was initially proposed as a way that will help Arkansas generate money for highways, the proposal was later changed in a way that would guarantee that casino gaming tax revenue would to Arkansas’ general fund. So far, three casino gaming proposals – in 1984, 1996 and 2000 – were rejected by local voters, and the local Supreme Court blocked two other proposals in 2012 and 2016.
As mentioned above, it has been important for the Driving Arkansas Forward group to guarantee that casino tax revenue will remain within the state in order to contribute to the state’s coffers. According to information provided by the Mississippi Gaming Commission, more than 113,000 residents of Arkansas went to play in Mississippi casinos in July 2018 alone. Many local voters also prefer to travel to Louisiana in order to take advantage of its casino industry.
In addition, the supporters of the proposed amendment have shared their belief that the changes which are to be brought to state’s Constitution in case that Issue 4 is greenlighted will create thousands of new jobs in Arkansas.