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Cherokee Nation has been granted a casino license in Arkansas

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Cherokee Nation Granted Casino License in Arkansas

The Arkansas Racing Commission voted on Friday to approve a license to the Cherokee Nation for a casino property in Pope County. The commission voted 3-2 to approve, which voids a license previously given to Gulfside Casino Partnership of Mississippi. Additionally, the state must refund Gulfside’s $250,000 casino license fee for a proposed casino resort in the Pope County town of Russellville. Instead, the Arkansas casino license will now be given to Cherokee Nation Businesses of Oklahoma.

Cherokee Nation Businesses is planning to build a casino via a company called Legends Resort & Casino LLC. The tribe also must pay a $250,000 licensing fee. As per the legislation, the commission must issue the license to the Cherokee Nation by Monday.

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State Supreme Court Votes in Tribe’s Favor

In October, the Arkansas Supreme Court voted in the tribe’s favor against Gulfside in a fierce legal battle over who had the authority to build the Pope County casino.

Although the Racing Commission had previously granted to Gulfside, the company had not broken ground on construction, pending a legal challenge.

After the state of Arkansas voted to support the expansion of gaming in 2018, the Pope County project became the fourth casino authorized to open in the state.

The other three casinos are already up and running. They are Southland Casino Racing in West Memphis, the Oaklawn Casino Resort in Hot Springs, and the Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff.

Mobile Sports Betting Could Launch in Arkansas

The Racing Commission’s meeting on Friday is one of a couple regarding casino issues in the state. It is expected that the commission will vote to post a proposed rule change surrounding mobile sports wagering.

Once the posting has been up for 30 days, the commission will vote on allowing mobile sports betting anywhere in Arkansas in December. Once some final procedural steps are completed, a state official said mobile sports betting could launch in early 2022.

Under current state rules, mobile sports betting is only permitted if the bettor is somewhere on the casino’s premises. However, no property in the Natural State offers that on-site mobile service.

Changing the rules would allow casinos to partner with an online betting operator, such as BetMGM or DraftKings, in providing off-site mobile wagers. The casinos could develop their own mobile betting apps instead of partnering with a national brand.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, R-Ark., has previously supported mobile sports betting in Arkansas.

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