Arkansas Court rejects Cherokee Nation’s casino bid

November 3, 2023

The Tribe was previously granted a license for Legends Resort and Casino.

The Arkansas Supreme Court has denied the Cherokee Nation’s casino bid for its Legends Resort and Casino, according to a local report in The Huntsville Item. The Court ruled against the Tribe in a five to two decision.

The Cherokee Nation’s bid involves building a $225m casino on its property in Russellville, Arkansas, which the Nation purchased for $35m.

The Tribe was previously approved for a casino license by the Arkansas Racing Commission.

In addition to denying the Tribe a casino license, The Arkansas Supreme Court recently upheld a decision in the lower court that said allowing the commission to award a Pope County casino license to Legends Resort and Casino and Cherokee Nation Businesses is, "in violation of the Arkansas Constitution’s Amendment 100.”

Furthermore, the State Supreme Court affirmed in a five to two ruling that, “the Arkansas Racing Commission erred in the licensing process by awarding the license in November 2021” because the commission is not permitted to grant licenses to two entities.

The court also ruled that “Legends does not meet licensing requirements written into the Arkansas constitution because the company has no prior casino gaming experience.”

Amendment 100 took effect in 2019, after passing in the State by ballot. The amendment “authorized casinos and casino gaming and allows casino licensees to accept wagers on sporting events if not prohibited by federal law.”

Prior to Amendment 100, gambling was only permitted on horseracing and greyhound racing Statewide.

Pope County Arkansas Judge, Ben Cross, recently sent a letter in support of the Oklahoma-based Cherokee Nation Businesses.

He stated in his letter, "It is my sincere hope the Commission views this as a measure of quick resolve and finalizes what has been an exhausting process to the citizens of Pope County.

"I have met with representatives of Cherokee Nation Entertainment and know they possess the qualifications, experience and commitment to community support to successfully operate a casino in Pope County."


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