he seven-member Arkansas Racing Commission selected on Thursday Gulfside Casino Partnership over Cherokee Nation Businesses to construct and operate a casino in Pope County, based n the commissioners' total score of 637 for Gulfside compared with 572 for Cherokee Nation Businesses.
The panel spent about three hours hearing presentations and questioning representatives of the companies, but the winner's competitor argued the scoring was flawed and promised to contest the decision, Arkansas Online reports.
The Mississippi-based Gulfside Casino Partnership on Thursday won the Arkansas Racing Commission's license to construct and operate a casino in Pope County -- but its competitor argued the scoring was flawed and promised to contest the decision.
Terry Green, co-owner of Gulfside Casino Partnership, told reporters that he's "very surprised and grateful" that the commission opted to grant his firm the license.
"We'll just have to see what plays out in the courts because I am sure that they are going to bring some actions," he said. "But right now, we are just going to enjoy it today. It's been a long road."
Dustin McDaniel, legal counsel for Cherokee Nation Businesses, said late Thursday afternoon in a written statement that he submitted a letter to the attorney general's office Tuesday expressing his concern that "an obviously biased commissioner could potentially overturn the will of the rest of the commission due to the proposed scoring system."
Commissioner Butch Rice of Beebe gave Gulfside a score of 100, compared with his score of 29 for the Cherokees. The 71-point difference in his totals was larger than the difference in the commissioners' scores overall.
"Despite the AG's office expressly warning Commissioners not to engage in arbitrary, capricious or biased scoring, Commissioner Rice in fact single-handedly overturned the score given by the rest of the commission," said McDaniel, a Democrat who is a former attorney general.
"We anticipate both an administrative appeal and a request for injunctive relief from a court. This is a uniquely significant state decision, and such an egregious act of bad faith should not be allowed to control it."
Rice said he believes that Gulfside Casino Partnership is a better fit for Russellville, Pope County and Arkansas.
Gulfside wants to build a larger casino in Pope County than Cherokee Nation Businesses envisioned, and that would create many more jobs and more tax revenue, he said.
"It is almost like comparing apples and oranges when comparing job creation and tax revenue," Rice said in a telephone interview. "The job creation was big to me, and that's what Gulfside proved, and that's what the people of Pope County would have been looking at."