Voters prepare to decide the fate of gambling in Arkansas, Maryland

TAGs: Arkansas, Maryland

Residents of Arkansas don’t want casino gambling—or do they. The residents appear to have difficulty making up their minds. 49% of the state has indicated that they want more casinos, which should be enough to expand the industry, but opponents are still fighting as the midterm elections quickly approach.

Voters in Arkansas, Maryland prepare to decide the fate of gambling in their statesThis past Monday, faith leaders, politicians and the Family Council Action Committee (FCAC) got together in order to campaign against Issue 4, a ballot measure that voters will find November 6. The measure looks to expand gambling operations in the state.

According to FCAC President Jerry Cox, “It’s our hope that the word will get out and people will vote against Issue 4. This is certainly still winnable for our side that this issue can be defeated, because I think what people need to do, they need to read the measure and understand what it does and we didn’t even get into the fact that it lowers the tax rate for Oaklawn and Southland to a rate lower than what they’re paying right now.”

If approved, Issue 4 would pave the way for new casinos in Jefferson and Pope Counties. It would also allow for more options in the cities of Southland and Oaklawn. Proponents argue that Issue 4 can generate millions in tax revenue and create thousands of jobs across the state.

Southland’s VP of Government Affairs, Jack McNeill, explained, “There’s 1.14 million trips of Arkansans going to Mississippi every year, we think it’s even more in Oklahoma and there’s opportunity to invest more, do more and give people a reason to keep money in Arkansas.”

Issue 4 almost didn’t make it to the ballot, which would have been a travesty of justice. The wording of the amendment resulted in two lawsuits being filed, asserting that the amendment was unconstitutional. However, the state’s Supreme Court ruled last week that the language was adequate and dismissed both lawsuits.

In Maryland, Question 1 would see the state constitution amended to funnel all gambling revenue to education. The measure has received a strong amount of support, especially as the public education system across the country is scrambling for funds. Ida DeGraw said that she supports it, adding, “I’m a teacher for one and I know that we always need new text books and new technology. So I like that idea.”

However, not everyone sees the issue so simply. Some have argued that the language in the amendment is confusing and prone to misinterpretation. A candidate for Washington County Commissioner, Cort Meinelschmidt, asserted, “I also believe the question was way too long and [it] is confusing. So I think people are going to bypass it.”

If approved, the benefits of Question 1 won’t be seen right away. Some indicated that the process will take place over the course of several years and that the education-directed funds may not be seen until 2023. However, given that the six casinos in the state provide tax revenue of around $517 million, it might very well be worth the wait.


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