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Battle over casino gaming in Arkansas continues

The battle over casino gaming in Arkansas continues, despite recent poll numbers showing 49 percent of Arkansans are in favor of more casinos.

The battle over casino gaming in Arkansas continues, despite recent poll numbers showing 49 percent of Arkansans are in favor of more casinos.

On Monday, the Family Council Action Committee gathered with other faith leaders and a lawmaker, at the Arkansas State Capitol, hoping to sway voters into voting against Issue 4.

“It's our hope that the word will get out and people will vote against Issue 4," said Family Council Action Committee President, Jerry Cox. "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."

"Voters must understand that this is not just an act that legislators could amend later, an amendment to our constitution is very hard and very expensive to reach for a reason, if it passes it will likely never be amended again for a very long time,” said Rep. Vivian Flowers (D-District 17).

The campaign, It's Our Turn, is educating voters to vote yes on Issue 4. This constitutional amendment would create two new casinos for Jefferson and Pope Counties, and expand gaming operations at Oaklawn and Southland. They say the thousands of jobs and millions in tax revenue the state will benefit from are good reasons to support Issue 4.

"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," said Jack McNeill, VP of government affairs for Southland.

"When you have more of an entertainment draw that also brings additional jobs, brings hotels, shopping and just more money to come within the state so that we don't have to drive three different directions in three different states to stimulate a different state's economy," said campaign volunteer Monica McGee.

If Issue 4 passes, both county judges and city mayors will have to approve and welcome those casinos to their towns.

While it's unknown what Jefferson County will do, Pope County already has a county ordinance on the ballot, that if Issue 4 passes, asking residents if they want to welcome a casino. Based on that outcome, their county judge will have to go with what the people want.

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