Pope County Offers Support to Cherokee Casino in Arkansas

Posted on: December 8, 2023, 01:48h.

Last updated on: December 8, 2023, 01:48h.

The Cherokee Nation Businesses (CNB) has received extensive support for its $300 million Arkansas casino project called Legends Resort & Casino in Russellville, offering sports betting and other casino games.

Cherokee Nation Arkansas casino
Pope County judicial officials in Arkansas are getting behind a casino project called Legends Resort & Casino. The $300 million scheme targeting Russellville is being pitched by the Cherokee Nation Businesses, a subsidiary of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. (Image: Legends Resort & Casino)

Arkansas has expanded its gambling landscape following a 2018 ballot referendum, which authorizes racinos in Crittenden and Garland to become full-scale casinos with slot machines, table games, and sports betting.

The 2018 referendum stated that only bids with a letter of support from the county’s sitting judge or quorum court would be considered by the Arkansas Racing Commission (ARC), making CNB’s proposal potentially more challenging for review.

As the commercial economic arm of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, the CNB bid was backed by Pope County Judge Ben Cross, competing against a $254 million bid from Gulfside Casino Partnership.

Following a scandal involving a biased grading of the two Pope County casino pitches, the Arkansas Supreme Court determined that ARC erred in recognizing the Gulfside bid, ultimately siding with the Cherokee plan.

The Pope County Quorum Court voted 7-6 in favor of the CNB casino, leaving ARC expected to reopen the casino bidding period soon.

Chuck Garrett, CEO of CNB, expressed readiness to submit a new application and address prior concerns by bidding solely as CNB or Legends Resort & Casino, LLC.

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