A recent study ordered by Cherokee Nation Businesses (CNB) has concluded that if a resort and casino was built in Russellville, Arkansas, it would produce over $3 billion in economic activity for the state in the first decade alone. The Economic Impact Group was commissioned to conduct the study and the CNB released it as part of a proposal in mid-February.
“In forming our plans for Legends Resort and Casino, we turned to a network of experts to help us understand how this project would impact the region’s economy,” CNB CEO Chuck Garrett said. “It was fitting for us to engage this research through Dr. Russell Evans and EIG who are already very familiar with current CNB operations.”
This study compared data from six Oklahoma counties of similar size to Pope County, where the casino would be built. They explained in the study that these “micropolitan areas” are near large metropolitan sectors, but not adjacent to them.
They found that in the first year of casino operationsm 1750 jobs would be created with a total employee income of $43.3 million. They extrapolated this to suggest that over a 10-year period, over 21,000 jobs would be created with an employee income total of $530 million.
Estimating the potential income tax revenue, Pope County would earn as much as $4.3 million in the first year, rising to $5.8 million by the 10th year. In total, the state would rake in $52.3 million through the first 10 years.
The proposed casino hasn’t been welcomed by all in Pope County. Citizens for a Better Pope County have argued that the Arkansas Racing Commission (ARC) had broken rules by granting a permit to CNB. The group felt that the authorization of the casino was unconstitutional as it was not put up to a public vote, and wanted to have the permit thrown out.
A judge ruled that the project did not violate the state’s constitution and that the agreement between the Cherokee nation and the state was both legal and binding. However, some lawsuits concerning the bidding process still has the CNB’s plans on hold.