It should have been a simple process in Arkansas. An idea for casino expansion is pitched, approved by legislators and voters and casino operators then present their projects in order to seek license approval. Everything seemed to be going well in Pope County until it was time to choose which operator would be given the license. That was the step where, last June, Arkansas Racing Commission (ARC) Commissioner Butch Rice screwed everything up, creating a serious amount of embarrassment that lingers today. Rice had seemed to be less than impartial when he sided with Gulfside Casino Partnership and its project, leading to backlash and a fight by the other candidate, the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, as well as his removal from involvement in the casino plans. The ordeal has continued and has now reached the Arkansas Supreme Court, which is giving its support to the Cherokee in the battle that is on-going.
When people of this ARC provided their ratings for the 2 casino proposals, it had been blatantly apparent that Rice never ever seriously considered the Cherokee’s task, providing it a score therefore low that everybody knew one thing ended up being fishy. That resulted in a complaint by the Cherokee, through its Cherokee Nation Business (CNB) supply, plus the voting procedure ended up being trashed. A completely independent party that is third brought in to make the decision, which didn’t sit well with Gulfside and the debacle continued.
Gulfside tried to plead its case in front of an Arkansas court judge, but lost. That, in theory, would have allowed the independent review and selection process to move forward, but the judge in that hearing, Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Tim Fox, decided that the CNB, since it had no casino experience, wasn’t qualified to be considered as a candidate that is possible.
That’s maybe not the conclusion of this dispute, either. Gulfside ended up being taken to task as it, in accordance with some, didn’t stick to the guidelines. For legal reasons, any proposition submitted to county governments must show help by a official that is local. The two casino candidates were being considered last year, Gibson had already vacated his position in Gulfside’s case, it had a letter of support from Pope County Judge Jim Ed Gibson, but this caused an issue because, by the time.
Gibson ended up being changed by Judge Ben Cross, whom simply been a supporter of this CNB’s casino plans. The ARC tossed down Gulfside’s application itself, once again, defending its position because it didn’t include an endorsement from an active official, and Gulfside found. Judge Fox found himself listening to company arguments once again and ruled that there was no mention in the legislation that required the proposal to carry an endorsement from an official that is active enabling Gibson’s approval and Gulfside’s application to stay.
As Gulfside ended up being airing its complaints as you’re watching court workbench year that is last it had managed to keep the CNB from being involved. This didn’t sit too well with the Cherokee, as the tribe would be directly impacted by whatever decision was reached. The Arkansas Supreme Court unanimously ruled this that Gulfside was wrong and that the CNB should have been included week. If the whirlwind case that is legaln’t already dizzy enough, it’s about to get worse. The CNB now has legal grounds to contest any decision tied to the Pope County casino license, including the decision last week by the ARC to move forward with Gulfside’s proposal as a result of the high court’s decision. The detergent opera drama is definately not over.