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  • KARK 4 News

    Arkansas Racing Commission votes to proceed with Cherokee Nation proposal for Pope County casino

    By Bill Smith,


    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – An Arkansas state board has given the green light for one developer to continue in the process of trying to get a license to open a gaming venue in Pope County and told another to fold.

    The Arkansas Racing Commission on Wednesday voted to proceed with the application from Cherokee Nation Entertainment to build out its Legends Casino project in Russellville.

    From Bet to Bust: Long-promised Pope County casino still not in the cards

    The Wednesday vote is just the latest step in this ongoing process. Cherokee Nation will next have a presentation to the commission on June 27 and apply to have their application get a formal score. Following those steps, the commission will vote on granting the official license for the casino.

    Pope County Judge Ben Cross has been a vocal backer of the effort from Cherokee Nation and provided that group with an official letter, as did the quorum court in December 2023.

    Cherokee Nation Entertainment CEO Chuck Garrett released a statement on the commission’s vote, saying in part that his company was eager to make its full presentation and showcase their experience in gaming, strong finances and “plans for a world-class casino resort in Pope County.”

    “We appreciate the ongoing efforts of the Arkansas Racing Commission and the Attorney General’s office to ensure a smooth process with respect to issuance of the Pope County casino license. As the only qualified applicant, we are eager to stand before the Arkansas Racing Commission where we will demonstrate Cherokee Nation Entertainment’s more than 30 years of experience in gaming and hospitality, its strong financial position, and plans for a world-class casino resort in Pope County.”

    Chuck Garrett, CEO, Cherokee Nation Entertainment

    A second group that has been trying to win the license, Mississippi-based Gulfside Casino Partnerships, also submitted an application. The commission officially rejected that application due to it lacking a letter of support from local leaders.

    Pope County Quorum Court hears pitches from groups seeking support for casino projects, maintains backing of Cherokee Nation

    Gulfside representatives went before the quorum court in Pope County last week asking for a letter of support from the justices, but that request failed on a 5-7 vote.

    Following the commission vote Wednesday, a representative for the Gulfside Casino Partnership issued a statement saying to group was “still weighing our options and considering next steps.”

    Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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