Arkansas Casino Amendment, Issue 3 and 4 (2012)
|Issues 3 and 4|
|Type:||initiated constitutional amendment|
|Referred by:||Nancy Todd and Michael Wasserman|
|Status:||Results not tabulated|
Editor's Note: The following is an article on two measures, proposed by two different sponsors, that were on the ballot in Arkansas, but due to separate litigation were rejected and votes for and against were not counted.
The second proposal on the ballot was proposed by Nancy Todd to allow casinos in the state.
According to reports, if both measures were deemed valid for a public vote, the one with the most votes would have been enacted.
Issue 3 is Nancy Todd's proposal.
Issue 4 is Michael Wasserman's proposal.
- See also: 2012 ballot measure election results
Results were not tabulated due to litigation.
Text of measure
|“||An Amendment to Allow Nancy Todd's Poker Palace and Entertainment Venues, LLC to Own and Operate Four Casino Gaming Establishments, One Each in Pulaski, Miller, Franklin and Crittenden Counties||”|
|“||An amendment to the Arkansas Constitution authorizing four casino gaming establishments, to be owned and operated by "Nancy Todd’s Poker Palace and Entertainment Venues, LLC" (a private limited liability company), one each to be located in Pulaski, Miller, Franklin and Crittenden Counties; prohibiting the general assembly and any political subdivision of the state from enacting any legislation, rules or regulations regarding casino gaming; prohibiting casino gaming at any other than the locations operated by Nancy Todd’s Poker Palace and Entertainment Venues, LLC (such prohibition may repeal the electronic games of skill act, and thereby prohibit Oaklawn Racing and Southland Racing from continuing to operate electronic games of skill at their respective race tracks in Hot Springs and West Memphis); prohibiting persons under the age of 21 from participating in casino gaming; requiring that the net gaming revenue of each casino shall be subject to the taxes levied by all of the taxing jurisdictions where a casino is located at the same rate as for businesses generally, with the tax to be paid to the state's general revenue fund account of the state apportionment fund; defining "net gaming revenue" as total annual gaming revenues, including compensation for conducting any game in which Nancy Todd’s Poker Palace and Entertainment Venues, LLC is not a party to the wager, minus amounts paid to cover the winnings of patrons; further requiring that the net gaming revenue of each casino be subject to an additional tax at the rate of twelve and one-half percent (12.5%); mandating that the proceeds of this additional tax shall not be subject to appropriation by the general assembly and declaring such proceeds to be cash funds held separate and apart from the state treasury with the additional proceeds distributed: (i) thirty percent (30%) to fund public schools in Arkansas; (ii) ten percent (10%) to the Arkansas Department of Veteran Affairs; (iii) eight percent (8%) to the Arkansas Children's Hospital; (iv) eight percent (8%) to the Medicaid program trust fund; (v) eight percent (8%) to a senior care prescription drug benefit program; (vi) six percent (6%) to the registered Arkansas state apprenticeship programs governed by the Arkansas Apprenticeship Coordination Steering Committee; (vii) twelve percent (12%) to the county in which a casino operates, based on net gaming revenue from operations in that county; and (viii) eighteen percent (18%) to all counties with no casino gaming, based on their population according to the most recent census; prohibiting any other state or local taxes, fees or assessments of any nature on Nancy Todd’s Poker Palace and Entertainment Venues, LLC, including on its furniture, fixtures, equipment, property, business operations, gross revenues, net gaming revenues, or income derived from or used in casino gaming except as levied against businesses generally; allowing a casino to operate any day for any portion of the day; allowing the selling or free furnishing of alcoholic beverages in casinos during all hours they operate but otherwise requiring adherence to all alcoholic beverage control board regulations; permitting the shipment into authorized counties of gambling devices duly registered, recorded and labeled pursuant to federal law; rendering the provisions of the amendment severable; declaring inapplicable all constitutional provisions and laws to the extent they conflict with this amendment but not otherwise repealing, superseding, amending or otherwise affecting amendments 84 (bingo) and 87 (statewide lottery) to the Arkansas Constitution.||”|
|“||An Amendment to Allow Arkansas Hotels and Entertainment, Inc. to Own and Operate Seven Casino Gaming Establishments, One Each in Sebastian, Pulaski, Garland, Miller, Crittenden, Boone and Jefferson Counties.||”|
|“|| An amendment to the Arkansas Constitution:
1) authorizing seven casino gaming establishments, to be owned and operated by "Arkansas Hotels and Entertainment, Inc." (a private for-profit corporation), one each to be located in Sebastian, Pulaski, Garland, Miller, Crittenden, Boone and Jefferson Counties; 2) prohibiting the general assembly and any political subdivision of the state from enacting any legislation, rules or regulations regarding casino gaming; 3) prohibiting casino gaming at any other than the locations operated by Arkansas Hotels and Entertainment, Inc.; 4) prohibiting persons under the age of 21 from participating in casino gaming; 5) requiring that the gross gaming revenue (as defined) of each casino shall be subject to the gross receipts tax levied by the taxing jurisdictions where a casino is located at the same rate as for businesses generally, with the tax to be paid to the state's general revenue fund account of the state apportionment fund; 6) further requiring that the gross gaming revenue (as defined) of each casino shall be subject to an additional tax at the rate of ten percent (10%) with the tax to be paid to the state's general revenue fund account of the state apportionment fund; 7) prohibiting any other state or local taxes, fees or assessments of any nature on Arkansas Hotels and Entertainment, Inc., including on its furniture, fixtures, equipment, property, business operations, gross revenues, gross gaming revenues, or income derived from or used in casino gaming except as levied against businesses generally; 8) allowing a casino to operate any day for any portion of the day; 9) allowing the selling or free furnishing of alcoholic beverages in casinos during all hours they operate but otherwise requiring adherence to all alcoholic beverage control board regulations; 10) permitting the shipment of gambling devices into authorized counties for purposes of federal law; 11) rendering the provisions of the amendment severable; 12) declaring inapplicable all constitutional provisions and laws to the extent they conflict with this amendment but not otherwise repealing, superseding, amending or otherwise affecting amendments 84 (bingo) and 87 (statewide lottery) to the Arkansas Constitution.
The following is information that was obtained from the supporting side of the measure:
- According to Michael Wasserman, the sponsor and creator of one initiative proposal, the casinos would have brought a big attraction to Arkansas: “If we create destination resorts, it’s going to bring people from Texas and all of the surrounding states."
- According to Nancy Todd, who was leading the second initiative effort, "As long as I've been doing this, if you build it, they will come. What I want to see is mega-entertainment facilities."
- Todd also responded to allegations that she was trying to create a monopoly, saying, "I very much wanted the voters to decide the issue instead of the Legislature because I wanted them to know they have a choice. Talk about a monopoly. I’m not trying to bring one, I’m trying to bust one."
The following is information that was obtained from the opposing side of the measure:
- The group Stop Casinos Now were against both initiatives.
- The group was made of legislators, law enforcement officers and clergy.
- Chuck Lange, a former director of the Arkansas Sheriff's Association, was the group's chairman.
- Stop Casinos Now spokesman Robert McLarty stated, “There’s no secret. This is an effort by Delaware North, through Southland, in addition to (members of the committee) who are all very concerned that a person from Las Vegas is coming to Arkansas and trying to skip a process of oversight and regulations in place for many years."
- Jerry Cox, president of the Family Council Action Committee, stated that his group opposed the initiative. Cox said that he and his group believed that gambling hurts economy: "Casinos absorb the money that people would otherwise spend on everything from groceries and gasoline to new cars and houses, and when that happens, local businesses suffer and so do the folks working for them."
- Ozark Mayor Carol Sneath stated that she did not want a casino near her city in Franklin County. She stated, "We like the simplicity of our little area. 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."
- On July 19, 2012, a poll was taken by Talk Business-Hendrix College surveying 585 likely voters in the state regarding the measure proposed by Nancy Todd. According to reports, the question read, "A proposal related to casino gambling in Arkansas may also be on the ballot. The proposal would allow Nancy Todd’s Poker Palace the right to establish casinos in four Arkansas counties. If the election were today, would you vote for this casino gambling proposal?" The margin of error of the poll was +/- 4.4 percentage points.
|Date of Poll||Pollster||In favor||Opposed||Undecided||Number polled|
|July 19, 2012||Talk Business-Hendrix College||28%||66%||6%||585|
|2012 measure lawsuits|
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|By lawsuit type|
|Ballot text |
Motivation of sponsors
- See also: List of ballot measure lawsuits in 2012
Michael Wasserman's challenge
On August 3, 2012, Michael Wasserman, sponsor of one of the two proposed casino amendments, filed a lawsuit with the Arkansas Supreme Court stating that elections officials should have given him more time to collect additional signatures needed to place the measure on the ballot. Previously, Wasserman's petition drive did not collect enough valid signatures by the state petition drive deadline in early July 2012.
It is not unprecedented for the Arkansas Secretary of State to allow additional time for initiative organizers to collect signatures, however, reports said that Wasserman didn't meet a requirement that signatures from at least 15 counties equal at least 5 percent of the votes cast in the last governor's election.
The lawsuit argued that the 15-county rule should not apply since the campaign turned in more than 78,133 signatures, although not all were valid.
On September 20, 2012, the Arkansas Supreme Court denied the lawsuit's arguments, therefore denying Wasserman's request for more time to collect additional signatures. Wasserman's measure remained on the ballot for 2012, but votes were not counted
Nancy Todd's challenge
On August 24, 2012, Nancy Todd, the supporter of the second initiative, filed a lawsuit with the Arkansas Supreme Court over the rejection of her proposal by state election officials. Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin's office rejected the revised wording that was submitted by supporters.
The lawsuit stated: "The secretary of state's threatened refusal to carry out this legal duty is a violation of his statutory obligations to the petitioners and the people and an abridgement of their rights under Amendment 7."
However, on October 4, 2012, the Arkansas Supreme Court stated that the measure's language was changed while signatures were being collected, deeming them invalid. The measure remained on the ballot, but votes were not counted.
Arkansas Racing Alliance v. Nancy Todd
The lawsuit challenged the legitimacy of the signatures that supporters submitted to the secretary of state and the language of the measure. This was the second lawsuit that has been filed regarding Nancy Todd's proposal. Todd's proposal was subsequently rejected by the Arkansas Supreme Court.
Path to the ballot
Supporters of the measures had until the July 6, 2012 petition drive deadline to collect the required 78,133 signatures needed to place an initiated constitutional amendment on the ballot in the state. Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel approved the Wasserman petition for circulation on November 16, 2011.
According to reports, the Arkansas Secretary of State's ruled during the week of July 11, 2012 that Michael Wasserman's initiative was invalid because he did not meet the signature requirement. According to reports, the initiative effort would not be given more time to collect signatures. Wasserman had seven days to challenge the ruling.
According to Wasserman, in a letter to the secretary's office, "If you feel that the petition is insufficient due to your disqualification of certain voters or errors contained on the petition sheets, then it is the constitutionally mandated of the secretary of state to so inform the sponsor of the amendment and allow 30 days to correct or amend the petition."
Another initiative, this time proposed by the Las Vegas-based Poker Palace LLC., filed their initiative with the Arkansas Attorney General to collect signatures. However, on March 21, 2012, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel rejected the petition, citing ambiguities in the text. The group was allowed to file the initiative again to gain circulation approval.
It was reported during the week of July 11, 2012 that Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel asked election officials to reject the proposal, stating that it was not legal due to the way tax money would be distributed if the proposal is enacted. The request stemmed from a challenge by state resident Elizabeth Williams. However, on July 20, 2012, the secretary of state's office rejected the challenge.
A second challenge then came from the group Stop Casinos Now. No reports had surfaced about developments regarding the Stop Casinos Now challenge to the measure.
On July 23, 2012, secretary of state spokesman Alex Reed stated that the initiative had fallen short of the required amount of signatures needed to make the ballot. According to reports, the initiative effort had 30 days to collect the additional signatures needed.
According to reports, the group behind the measure submitted new ballot language after the Arkansas Secretary of State claimed the language was insufficient. The supporting group stated that the new language did not alter the law, so signatures should have been counted when submitted by the deadline. According to Nancy Todd, who spearheaded the petition drive, "We'll be well over 100,000, and we've had the luxury of a little more time this round to be able to double check everybody's registration which is something we suffered from in the short time frame we had the first run. So, we feel good about it. You know, we fully expect that the people of Arkansas will have a chance to vote on this issue on November 6 which has been my goal from the day I started in January."
While the lawsuit was being reviewed, election officials stated that the initiative collected the required amount of signatures to make the ballot. The measure was ultimately rejected by the Supreme Court.
- Arkansas 2012 ballot measures
- 2012 ballot measures
- Laws governing the initiative process in Arkansas
- List of Arkansas ballot measures
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 The City Wire, "Casino amendment qualifies for ballot signatures", November 16, 2011
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2012 General Election and Nonpartisan Judicial Run-Off Washington County, Arkansas November 6, 2012
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Arkansas News, "Casino amendment ‘will be on the ballot,’ promoter says", November 17, 2011
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 The Republic, "Supporters gathering signatures for casino plans; 78k needed to get on Arkansas ballot", May 14, 2012
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Booneville Democrat, "Second Group Forms To Oppose Casino Initiatives", May 18, 2012
- ↑ Talk Business, "Casino Proposal Facing Long, Tough Odds", Retrieved July 30, 2012
- ↑ WSLS.com, "Suit filed in Ark. over casino petition rejection", August 3, 2012
- ↑ Memphis Daily News, "Arkansas Court Rejects More Time for Casino Measure", September 21, 2012
- ↑ CBS News, "Lawsuit filed over Ark. casino measure rejection", August 24, 2012
- ↑ The Republic, "Arkansas Supreme Court rejects proposed ballot measure to allow casinos in the state", October 4, 2012
- ↑ Arkansas Business, "Arkansas Racing Alliance Sues To Block Nancy Todd Casino Proposal", September 18, 2012
- ↑ Today's THV, "Election officials: Ark casinos measure invalid", July 11, 2012
- ↑ KTTS.com, "Casino Backer Challenges Denial By Arkansas Officials", July 18, 2012
- ↑ Arkansas News, "UPDATE:Texas challenging rejection of Ark casino amendment", July 18, 2012
- ↑ Arkansas News, "AG rejects casino proposal", March 21, 2012
- ↑ The Republic, "Ark. attorney general's office rejects wording for proposed ballot title for casino measure", April 9, 2012
- ↑ KATV.com, "Ark. AG rejects 1 ballot item, approves another", Retrieved April 25, 2012
- ↑ Arkansas Matters, "Group Very Close to Getting Casinos on Arkansas Ballot", June 28, 2012
- ↑ Kait 8.com, "Arkansas AG: Reject challenge to casino proposal", July 11, 2012
- ↑ SW Times, "Challenges To Arkansas Casino Proposal Rejected", July 21, 2012
- ↑ The Republic, "Secretary of state's office says casino measure short on signatures from registered voters", July 24, 2012
- ↑ KUAR.org, "Nancy Todd Submits Wording Change, Says She'll Have Plenty Of Signatures", August 20, 2012
- ↑ CBS News, "Lawsuit filed over Ark. casino measure rejection", August 24, 2012
- ↑ Business Week, "Ark. casino measure meets signature requirement", September 14, 2012