Supporters gather signatures for Ark. casino plans
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- Two competing ballot proposals would bring casinos to Arkansas, primarily in counties along the border and in the state's largest cities -- but only one of the measures can become law.
If voters approve both constitutional amendments in November, the one that receives the most votes will become law. But first, supporters of the two proposals must gather enough signatures -- 78,133 by July 6 -- to get the constitutional amendments on the ballot.
One proposal would bring casinos to Boone, Crittenden, Garland, Jefferson, Miller, Pulaski and Sebastian counties. That plan is backed by Michael Wasserman, who led an effort in 2006 to legalize casinos in Arkansas but abandoned his campaign after the death of his sister.
A second plan is proposed by professional poker player Nancy Todd of Las Vegas. She wants to open casinos in Crittenden, Franklin, Miller and Pulaski counties.
"As long as I've been doing this, if you build it, they will come," Todd said. "What I want to see is mega-entertainment facilities."
Ozark Mayor Carol Sneath told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that she doesn't want a casino near her Franklin County city of 3,684 residents.
"We like the simplicity of our little area," she said. "We are a small community that has a lot to offer. We'd like to develop but we don't want to change our complexion."
Todd said she chose Franklin County for a casino because of its proximity to northwest Arkansas, Fort Smith and Oklahoma. It's the first county where alcohol can be sold when driving east from Oklahoma on Interstate 40, she said.
"There was support for having the casino but not putting it smack in the middle of northwest Arkansas," she said.
In Boone County, along the Missouri border, Mayor Jeff Crockett said he'd welcome a casino. He said he's tired of seeing tourists skip over Harrison on their way to Branson -- a major tourist destination with no casinos.
"It would help us draw tourism from Branson," he said. "I think a casino would probably employ 1,000 people or better and generate a lot of tax revenue for the state and hopefully the local economy also."
But Boone County Judge James Norton, said he's not for "revenue at any cost."
"You'd bring a million problems," Norton said.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)