upporters of a proposed constitutional amendment expanding casino gaming submitted more than 97,000 signatures to the Arkansas secretary of state’s office Monday, the deadline to qualify for the November 2020 ballot.
The private group was required to collect 89,151 verified signatures of registered voters. By crossing that threshold, the effort will qualify for a 30-day cure period giving it time to collect additional signatures if needed, Talk Business & Politics reports. The secretary of state will validate that the signatures come from eligible registered voters.
If passed by voters in November, the Arkansas Wins in 2020 initiative would require the Arkansas Racing Commission to issue casino gaming licenses to 16 casinos in several counties. Two would be in Pulaski County and would be owned by Little Rock 1 Gaming Associates and Little Rock 2 Gaming Associates. Two would be in Crittenden County and would be owned by West Memphis 1 Gaming Associates and West Memphis 2 Gaming Associates.
The amendment doesn’t identify the various groups that would own the casinos. The campaign’s chairman is Doug Meyer, according to the committee’s statement of organization filed with the Arkansas Ethics Commission.
Casino licenses would be awarded no later than June 1, 2021. Casino license fees would be $250,000, levied one time. The amendment says net casino gaming receipts would be subject to a tax of 13% on the first $150 million and 20% on receipts exceeding that amount, with no other tax allowed on gaming receipts or net casino gaming receipts. Casinos would be subject to other forms of taxation other than sales and gross receipts taxes.
Per the proposal, 55% of the tax shall be distributed to the state’s general revenue fund, 15% to the city where the casino is located and 15% to the county where the casino is located, and 15% to all other counties that do not have a license. If a casino is not located in a city, then the host county would receive the entire 30%.
Casinos could operate at all hours and could sell liquor at all hours, including in dry counties or cities, which would not be allowed to vote to curtail liquor sales. The amendment would allow wagers on sporting events.
The amendment states that “all constitutional provisions, statutes, and common law of the state that conflict with this amendment are not to be applied to this amendment.” It also says it does not amend Amendment 100, which was passed by voters in 2018 to allow casino gaming in Pope and Jefferson Counties, to the extent that it doesn’t conflict with the Arkansas Wins amendment.