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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 Court docket is meant to offer neutral resolutions to authorized disputes. However the state’s highest courtroom this week solely added extra authorized complexity to an already difficult case involving a on line casino license in Pope County.
The Arkansas Supreme Court docket, seen right here in a latest gathering of the justices, has weighed in on the on line casino license earmarked for Pope County. The excessive courtroom’s ruling, nonetheless, will solely complicate issues extra. (Picture: Arkansas Supreme Court docket)
In a unanimous resolution issued at the moment, the Arkansas Supreme Court docket dominated that the Cherokee Nation Companies (CNB) had the appropriate to intervene involving a lawsuit introduced by the Gulfside On line casino Partnership in opposition to the Arkansas Racing Fee (ARC) final yr.
Arkansas voters in 2018 voted to permit 4 land-based industrial 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 have been additionally authorised, one every in Jefferson and Pope counties.
The Quapaw Nation of Oklahoma and its Downstream Growth 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
Below the 2018 constitutional modification handed by voters, undertaking proposals to county governments should embrace assist from native officers, together with a county choose. The Gulfside On line casino Partnership’s on line casino bid in Pope County included the assist of Pope County Decide Jim Ed Gibson.
Nonetheless, Gibson exited the place initially 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 choose’s assist, Arkansas Circuit Court docket Decide Tim Fox dominated in Gulfside’s favor on grounds that the 2018 poll referendum mentioned nothing concerning the choose needing to be sitting on the present county bench.
Fox additionally prevented the Cherokees from intervening within the case. And the Arkansas Supreme Court docket mentioned that was flawed.
The seemingly minute ruling this week has large penalties. The excessive courtroom’s resolution reopens the matter to new authorized challenges. CNB attorneys have already acknowledged publicly their plan to attraction the Racing Fee’s resolution 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 displays. 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.
Attorneys, together with Arkansas Legal professional Normal Leslie Rutledge’s workplace, stepped in. ARC Chair Alex Lieblong’s textual content messages with CNB legal professional 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 Court docket’s ruling provides extra authorized groundway for CNB attorneys to halt Gulfside from breaking floor.
The case continues.
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