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Posted on: February 4, 2021, 03:30h.
Final up to date on: February 4, 2021, 03:42h.
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The Arkansas Supreme Courtroom is meant to supply neutral resolutions to authorized disputes. However the state’s highest court docket this week solely added extra authorized complexity to an already sophisticated case involving a on line casino license in Pope County.
The Arkansas Supreme Courtroom, seen right here in a current gathering of the justices, has weighed in on the on line casino license earmarked for Pope County. The excessive court docket’s ruling, nonetheless, will solely complicate issues extra. (Picture: Arkansas Supreme Courtroom)
In a unanimous determination issued at the moment, the Arkansas Supreme Courtroom dominated that the Cherokee Nation Companies (CNB) had the fitting to intervene involving a lawsuit introduced by the Gulfside On line casino Partnership in opposition to the Arkansas Racing Fee (ARC) final 12 months.
Arkansas voters in 2018 voted to permit 4 land-based business casinos within the state. The poll referendum licensed Southland and Oaklawn racinos to pivot into full-sale casinos with slot machines and desk video games. Two from-the-ground-up casinos had been additionally authorized, one every in Jefferson and Pope counties.
The Quapaw Nation of Oklahoma and its Downstream Improvement Authority moved shortly after profitable approval in Jefferson and receiving its license from ARC. The tribe opened the Saracen On line casino Resort in Pine Bluff final October.
Pope On line casino License Again in Jeopardy
Underneath the 2018 constitutional modification handed by voters, challenge proposals to county governments should embrace help from native officers, together with a county decide. The Gulfside On line casino Partnership’s on line casino bid in Pope County included the help of Pope County Decide Jim Ed Gibson.
Nonetheless, Gibson exited the place in the beginning of 2019, and his successor, Decide Ben Cross, favored a on line casino submission from CNB. After the Racing Fee deemed Gulfside’s bid invalid due to not having a present county decide’s help, Arkansas Circuit Courtroom Decide Tim Fox dominated in Gulfside’s favor on grounds that the 2018 poll referendum stated nothing concerning the decide needing to be sitting on the present county bench.
Fox additionally prevented the Cherokees from intervening within the case. And the Arkansas Supreme Courtroom stated that was unsuitable.
The seemingly minute ruling this week has huge penalties. The excessive court docket’s determination reopens the matter to new authorized challenges. CNB attorneys have already said publicly their plan to attraction the Racing Fee’s determination final week to formally approve the Gulfside on line casino plan.
Pope County’s eventual on line casino will open a few years after Jefferson’s. The saga started when ARC Commissioner Bruce Rice was deemed to have had a bias in scoring the 2 on line casino shows. Rice gave Gulfside an ideal 100 factors, whereas solely 29 for the Cherokee scheme.
Rice’s 71-point differential single-handedly tipped the general ends in Gulfside’s favor. ARC determined to recuse Rice from the licensing and deemed his scores invalid.
Legal professionals, together with Arkansas Legal professional Basic Leslie Rutledge’s workplace, stepped in. ARC Chair Alex Lieblong’s textual content messages with CNB lawyer Dustin McDaniel later resulted in Lieblong excusing himself from the matter, too.
ARC, with an impartial third-party counsel, determined final week to proceed with Gulfside. However the Arkansas Supreme Courtroom’s ruling offers further authorized groundway for CNB attorneys to halt Gulfside from breaking floor.
The case continues.
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