A group of activists opposing a controversial casino ballot measure has asked the Arkansas Supreme Court to strike the measure from an upcoming November ballot. A proposed constitutional amendment would give Arkansas the authority to issue four licenses to casinos throughout The Natural State, but a group called Ensuring Arkansas’ Future has petitioned the state Supreme Court to refrain from voting at all on the pro-casino issue.

For the activist group campaigning against the proposed constitutional amendment, victory would come by convincing the state Supreme Court to refrain from voting on the proposed amendment, and they ultimately seek to keep it off the ballot in the upcoming November elections.

Activists want the issue off the ballot

Pope County, Jefferson County, Crittenden County, and Garland County all have applicants vying to get licensing for what could be a very lucrative casino operation, per the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. Activists fighting against the ballot measure claim that its deceptive title will trick Arkansas into voting for it without knowing the consequences. Other pro-casino groups refute that claim and assert that those challenging this are being disingenuous.

"This lawsuit is not only meritless, but disingenuous,” Nate Steel, counsel for two pro-casino groups, told the Gazette. “We have no doubt that [the ballot initiative] will withstand this legal challenge,” he continued.

Those who are resisting efforts to strip the pro-casino measure from the ballot have extensive financial ties to local indigenous groups. According to the Idaho Statesman, the pro-casino measure group Driving Arkansas Forward has already accumulated some $2.2 million from local tribes like the Quapaw and Cherokee.

Experience needed

The proposed amendment to the state’s constitution would necessitate that applicants for casino licenses demonstrate legitimate experience in online casino gambling ventures, among other requirements. Applicants would also pay a fee to state authorities and would need to find a county judge willing to submit a letter of support for the license.

Pro-casino groups estimate that the ballot measure, if successfully passed, could raise some $66 million every year for the state. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has publicly opposed the amendment, pledging that he intends to vote “no” on the issue should it persist and show up on the ballot despite the legal challenges.