County Judge of Pope County Endorses Cherokees with Official Letter of Support

Posted on: October 31, 2023, 10:34h. 

Last updated on: October 31, 2023, 10:34h.

Pope County Judge Ben Cross has reaffirmed his support for a casino license to be awarded to Cherokee Nation Businesses (CNB).

Pope casino Arkansas Cherokee Gulfside
Pope County Judge Ben Cross has reaffirmed his support for a casino from the Cherokee Nation Businesses, the commercial entity of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. It’s unclear how the Arkansas Racing Commission will move forward with considering the county’s casino license following a ruling last week from the Arkansas Supreme Court. (Image: Arkansas Business)

The Arkansas Supreme Court has ruled that the Arkansas Racing Commission (ARC) incorrectly awarded CNB the casino license due to its partnership with Legends Hospitality. The 2018 gaming referendum mandated that ARC only consider single-entity applicants with experience operating a commercial casino.

As Legends is a concessions provider with no casino experience, their partnership with CNB disqualified them from the bidding process.

Reviewing the Case

The 2018 referendum allowed up to four commercial casino licenses to be issued by ARC. Oaklawn and Southland racinos were awarded two licenses to become Las Vegas-style casinos. The remaining licenses were reserved for Pope and Jefferson counties.

Jefferson County and the Quapaw Nation of Oklahoma have already opened Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff. However, the Pope County license has yet to be issued following the recent Supreme Court ruling.

The state is currently evaluating its next steps for a new application period in Pope County.

Judge Ben Cross has submitted an updated letter of support for the Cherokee proposal, hoping to expedite the process for the citizens of Pope County.

According to Amendment 100, bidders must receive a letter of support from the county judge or quorum court. As the Pope County Quorum Court has chosen not to support a casino bid, Judge Cross’s letter will be the exclusive letter of support in the county.

Cherokee Opponent

It is expected that Cherokee Nation Business and Legends Hospitality will revise their bid to satisfy the terms of Amendment 100 and become the sole applicant. However, Gulfside Casino Partnership, the other bidder for the county license, believes their submission should prevail.

Gulfside initially received the gaming license in 2020, but the CNB-Legends group successfully appealed on the basis that Gulfside presented a letter of support from a former county judge, which did not meet the requirements.

The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that the Amendment 100 specified the current county judge as the only valid letter of support.

Continuing Chaos

The Pope County casino controversy began when it was revealed that Arkansas Racing Commissioner Butch Rice had a bias in scoring the two competing proposals. Rice gave Gulfside a perfect score while giving the Cherokee plan a significantly lower score.

Rice’s bias heavily influenced the total score in favor of Gulfside. It was later determined that Rice had a personal connection to one of Gulfside’s co-founders.

Following legal assistance, ARC ultimately awarded Gulfside the license. However, the Cherokees appealed the decision based on the lack of a proper letter of support from the county judge or quorum court.

Source link

Leave a Comment