Even months after the referendum, in which the people voted in favor of a casino, Pope county will have to wait longer to get its first casino.
On Friday, a judge in Arkansas restricted the state panel from issuing a license for a casino. The state panel is tasked with selecting an operator who would be awarded a casino license.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, on Friday, issued a restraining order that effectively stops the state’s Racing Commission from deciding the fate of applicants vying for a casino license in Pope County.
The state panel to select a casino operator was about to hold a meeting this coming Monday and decide whom to grant a license. However, after judge Griffin issued the restraining order on Friday the meeting was canceled.
Casino Legalization In Pope County
Arkansas has been conservative when it comes to gambling. However, in 2018, the voters in Arkansas voted in favor of a constitutional amendment that legalized casino gambling in both Pope and Jefferson counties. It also allowed for casinos at a Hot Springs horse track and a West Memphis dog track.
While at other places the gambling authority has already selected an operator who was awarded a casino license, Pope County’s casino license is battling legal hurdles.
The restraining order came in response to a lawsuit filed by a group that has challenged the legality of the processes adopted by the gambling regulators to award a casino license. The lawsuit challenges the Arkansas Racing Commission’s move to open a second window to review casino applications.
The ruling to restrict the commission from issuing a license came after a judge ruled that the second opening was invalid.
The feud began after the Racing Commission rejected the applications received from five applicants back in June last year. It was rejected for not having endorsements from current local officials. To proceed with the licensing process the Racing Commission opened a second window and it was this that has been challenged in the court.