n Arkansas judge on Friday temporarily blocked a state panel from issuing a license for a casino to operate in Pope County.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen issued a temporary restraining order preventing the state Racing Commission from considering applications or issuing a casino license. The panel had planned to meet Monday to consider whether to issue a license. That meeting was canceled following Griffen's order, the Associated Press reports.
Arkansas voters in 2018 approved a constitutional amendment legalizing casinos in Pope and Jefferson counties, and at a Hot Springs horse track and a West Memphis dog track. Pope County is the only one of the four locations where a casino license has not been approved.
Griffen issued the order in response to a lawsuit filed by a group that said the commission violated its rules by opening a second period to review casino applications. The ruling comes a day after another judge ruled the second application window was invalid because it contradicts adopted gambling rules. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox issued the opinion to support his denial of Cherokee Nation Businesses' request to intervene in the case filed by Gulfside Casino Partnership, a Mississippi casino operator.
The second window for applications was opened up after all five applicants for the Pope County casino — Gulfside Casino Partnership of Mississippi, Cherokee Nation Businesses of Oklahoma, Kehl Management of Iowa, Warner Gaming of Nevada and Choctaw Nation Division of Commerce of Oklahoma — were rejected by the Racing Commission in June because none contained endorsements by current local officials.