Pope County Quorum Court Postpones Casino Decision Indefinitely

Pope County Quorum Court Delays Decision on Casino License

Posted on: November 3, 2023, 09:56h.

Last updated on: November 3, 2023, 09:56h.

Pope County Arkansas casino Ben Cross
Pope County Judge Ben Cross leads an Aug. 3, 2023, meeting of the Pope County Quorum Court. The county justices refused to approve a resolution introduced by Cross that would require the quorum to take a neutral position among two casino bids for the county’s lone gaming license. (Image: Pope County)

The Pope County Quorum Court has postponed a decision on the commercial casino license awarded to the county, following a ruling by the Arkansas Supreme Court. County Judge Ben Cross requested that the court take a neutral stance on the issue, but the request was tabled. The court will reconvene at a later date to discuss the matter further.

The Supreme Court ruled that the license had been wrongly awarded to a group involving the Cherokee Nation Businesses (CNB) and Legends Hospitality, stating that the license should have only been issued to a sole entity with gaming experience. The CNB and Legends had jointly applied for their proposed $225 million project called Legends Resort & Casino in Russellville. However, Legends Hospitality does not possess gaming experience.

Cross Supports Cherokee Bid

Despite the ruling, Judge Ben Cross maintains that the CNB and Legends plan is the best fit for Pope County. He has written a letter of support for their project and believes they will restructure their ownership to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling. The CNB has extensive experience in the casino industry, which Cross sees as an advantage for the community.

The casino license bidding process requires a letter of support from the county judge or quorum court. Cross asked the Pope Quorum Court to approve a resolution pledging their neutrality in the ongoing casino dilemma. However, the request was tabled by the justices of peace during a recent meeting.

The decision to delay the resolution has put Judge Ben Cross in the spotlight, as he has been a vocal supporter of the CNB and Legends bid. The court is expected to revisit the issue at a future meeting, allowing for further discussion and potential resolution.

Previously, the Gulfside Casino Partnership presented a competing bid for the casino license, but it was disqualified due to lacking support from the current county judge and quorum court. The casino bidding process in Pope County has been met with significant legal complications and controversies.

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