Push to bring casinos to Arkansas begins

(WMC-TV) - A controversial issue could soon be on the ballot in Arkansas. The signatures have been turned in and now there could be two casino initiatives on the ballot in Arkansas this November.

The push for slot machines and casinos in Arkansas has passed another hurdle. Two ballot measures now have thousands of signatures supporting them.

Two competing ballot proposals got the required signatures in on time and the secretary of state's office is validating all of them. Both proposals put casinos in Crittenden County.

One calls for seven casinos in Arkansas. It is being pushed by Texas businessman Mike Wasserman.

Another is being pitched by professional poker player Nancy Todd. She wants five casinos in the state or what she calls "entertainment centers".

"Mine are entertainment destinations resorts where you're going to have water slides and shooting ranges and outdoor theatres all of those things that make it a destination resort," explained Nancy Todd.

She said her proposal will bring 6,000 new jobs to Arkansas, keep a half of a billion dollars in the state, and substantially increase tax revenue.

But Arkansas State Rep. Keith Ingram is one of several lawmakers opposed to the initiative. He said gaming is already in Crittenden County.

"With Southland and Oaklawn, they have a history of being good corporate citizens in the communities that they serve," said Rep. Ingram.

Expect both sides to have volunteers going door-to-door between now and Election Day. As it stands now, if both casino measures were to pass, the one with the most votes would be law but Arkansas' attorney general would have the final say if it gets to that point.

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