Some Lawmakers Oppose Amendment Bringing Casinos To Three Arkansas Counties

WASHINGTON COUNTY (KFSM) --  This November Arkansas voters will decide whether they want casinos in three different counties, one of those being Washington County.

Dozens of lawmakers have come out against the amendment and one we spoke with thinks Washington County is no place for a casino.

State Representative Greg Leding of Fayetteville said while that type of business could benefit Boone and Miller Counties, he doesn't feel that way about a casino in Washington County, which is also home to the University of Arkansas.

“It carves out special space for out of state interest into our state constitution," Leding said. "It strips away local control. And the idea that we could have a twenty-four alcohol sales in the back steps of our state`s flagship university just seems like a bad idea.”

Leding said it`s one thing to have an entertainment district like Dickson Street nearby, but having a 24-hour operation would be a distraction that's not needed near campus.

“You always want more jobs and increased tax revenue. We`re very fortunate here in Northwest Arkansas, I think we can be a little more selective, I`m not necessarily opposed to casinos in Arkansas, I just don`t know if this is the right way to go about it,” Leding said.

U of A junior Brianna Burney thinks having a casino may keep students from going to class.

“I think it would be good economically and I think people should be held accountable for their own decisions,” Burney said.

Freshmen Stephanie Waters agrees and said the ability to buy alcohol around the clock in a casino won't make much of a difference to most students.

“I feel like it won`t affect students more or less about wasting money or being out late since if they are already planning on doing that anyway, they would go do it and if not they already know it`s a waste of time and money, then they aren't going to do it,” Waters said.

The group Arkansas Wins in 2016, which got the amendment on the ballot, said they have not yet decided on a specific location for the casino. However, Cherokee Nation Entertainment has already stepped up to build and manage the venue.

In his statement, spokesman Robert Coon said “A specific location for the facility in Washington County has not yet been determined, however state and local officials throughout Washington County are adept at dealing with a wide range of entertainment related venues today.  We believe that the facility authorized by Issue 5 will be beneficial for young adults in Washington County and surrounding areas who are interested in full or part time job opportunities in the hospitality industry, whether those be hotel, restaurant, entertainment, or corporate business related.  Cherokee Nation Entertainment’s corporate policy requires all gaming facility patrons to be 21 years of age or older, as verified by legal identification, and they intend to continue that policy at any facility in Arkansas.  Furthermore, the amendment states that the casinos authorized would be subject to applicable Arkansas laws involving the sale of alcohol, which would include age of purchase restrictions."

The measure is called Issue Five and will be on the ballot during the November 8th general election.

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