Arkansas Casino Initiative Opposed

Efforts to have a constitutional amendment placed on the Nov. 7 ballot for casino gaming in Arkansas have drawn opposition from several groups within the state. At a news conference Wednesday, representatives of the Arkansas Committee for Ethics Policy and Families First Action Committee said they oppose casino gaming in the state because it is bad public policy, according to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. The groups' spokesman said casino gaming increases crime rates and leads to a higher number of bankruptcies.

The newspaper reported that Arkansas Casino Corp. of Atlantic City, N. J. has obtained about 81,000 signatures on a petition seeking to have the casino initiative on the fall ballot. If adopted, the amendment would give Arkansas Casino Corp. the exclusive right to build casinos in six counties in the state. The amendment would also establish a gambling commission, establish a state lottery, and allow charitable bingo.

The Democrat-Gazette reported that a spokesman for the Arkansas Committee for Ethics Policy is not opposed to the only current form of legalized gambling in Arkansas, pari-mutuel wagering at Oaklawn Park. Larry Page said the organization has learned to "live in peaceful co-existence" with Oaklawn Park and Southland Greyhound Park in West Memphis, Tenn., on the Arkansas border, because potential negative impact from that form of gambling is minimal compared to casino gambling, the paper reported. (More, Democrat-Gazette)