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Casino Legalisation Would Increase Arkansas’s Tax Revenues by $122 Million
- October 12, 2016 By Oliver Young -
There will be 7 issues on which citizens of Arkansas will be able to cast their vote on the state-wide ballot that will be held on November 8. Issues 5 is particularly interesting. If a majority votes ‘yes’ on issue 5, then gambling would be formally legalised in three Arkansas counties – Boone, Miller and Washington and one casino would be allowed in each.
If the outcome is positive, Arkansas will join the increasing number of US states that legalised gambling. Interestingly, Arkansas is the home of one of biggest opponents of online gambling legalisation on a federal level, Senator Tom Cotton. It would be pretty ironic if the people of his home-state vote in favour of gambling legalisation.
Casinos Would Generate Lots of Local Jobs
A recent study which shows that Arkansas’s state budget will benefit from increased annual tax revenues of $122 if the state legalises gambling. The study was conducted by the Economic Impact Group, an organisation based in Oklahoma. The study was commissioned by Arkansas Wins, one of the largest pro-casino groups in the state.
The study was based on the assumption that if gambling is legalised, then 18% of the gambling receipts of each of the three casinos would flow directly in the state budget. The proposition also states that additional 1.5% will be received by the city in which the casino is located and 0.5% by the respective county.
And not only will gambling legalisation result in higher tax revenues for the state of Arkansas, but there will also bring additional investments in the areas surrounding the casino resorts. Furthermore, thousands of jobs would be generated and that would be an extra boost for the local economy. It is estimated that about 3,400 jobs in construction alone would be generated.
Once the casinos are built it is expected that about 1,500 people will be employed in the casinos that are going to be located in Boone and Washington and at least 500 people in the Miller County casino. The estimates are based on existing examples of two Oklahoma casinos.
The Governor of Arkansas Is Not in Favour of Legalisation
Provided that the referendum is successful, the casino in Washington County will be operated by the Cherokee, who signed a deal with the pro-casino group earlier this year. If that happens it would be a truly historic moment for the Cherokees, as it will be the first casino that they are going to build and run on a non-tribal land.
Despite all positive things and the contribution towards the state’s economy, the study didn’t convince many of the gambling opponents within Arkansas. Some stated that the study is obviously biased, as it was ordered by a pro-gambling group who has an aim to present gambling in a positive light.
Some opponents went as far as calling the study as ‘political propaganda’. One of the largest opponents of gambling legalisation in Arkansas, Chuck Lange said ‘it’s not worth the paper it is printed on’.
The Governor of Arkansas, Hutchinson, who is a Republican, is also a strong opponent of gambling legalisation. He feels that gambling legalisation will have a negative impact on the communities and that it will lead to the emergence of monopolies, controlled by entities who are not based in Arkansas.
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