State Lawmakers And City Officials Oppose Casino Issue

FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) --The November election is now less than a month away and one of the issues that have been getting a lot of attention is Issue 5.

If voters pass the issue the Arkansas constitution would be amended to allow casinos in the state. Washington County is one of three counties that would allow a casino.

State lawmakers said they are against amending the constitution to include the names of three companies that will be operating the casinos.

“This is more than just a good decision versus a bad decision. This opens up the Arkansas constitution to all kinds of abuse from outside players and it`s actually scary,” Charlie Collins said.

Republican state representative Charlie Collins said Issue 5 writes in economic benefits for specific individuals into the constitution and this would then allow those individuals to sell those economic benefits to anyone they choose.

“No state in history has written into their constitution the particular economic benefit for specific companies,” Collins said.

Robert Coon represents Arkansas wins in 2016 which is the group behind the amendment. He said the Arkansas gaming commission would be appointed by the Governor, who along with the legislature would over the casinos.

“Cherokee Nation is one that would be involved in the Washington County facility that want to bring their dollars and investment dollars to Arkansas to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars in investment,” Coon said.

This week, the group released an economic impact study outlining the jobs and money the casino would bring to the area. It said the three casinos would bring $122 million in annual gaming tax revenue.

In Washington County it said a casino would bring 1,300 jobs with average wages and benefits amounting to $42,000.

President and CEO of the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce Steve Clark said they don't think the numbers are accurate and these type of jobs don’t fit in with the city’s plan for job creation.

“That plans says that the jobs we want to create are not in tourism and gambling but are in healthcare and education and innovation with legacy employers, people who have had business here for fifty years and seventy years and ninety years,” Clark said.

It's still possible issue five won't even make the ballot because right now the Arkansas Supreme Court is considering claims from the opposition that hundreds of signatures on a petition to get issue five on the ballot are not valid.

For an economic report on Issue 5, click here. 

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