LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Legalizing casinos in three Arkansas counties would create an additional $122 million in annual tax revenue and thousands of new jobs, according to a study commissioned by supporters of the proposal that opponents of the ballot measure criticized as “political propaganda.”
The study paid for by Arkansas Wins in 2016 projected that 3,200 new jobs would be created at the three casinos proposed in Boone, Miller and Washington counties, as well as more than 3,400 construction jobs if the proposed constitutional amendment is approved by voters in November.
The study was conducted by Oklahoma-based Economic Impact Group. The state Department of Finance and Administration has not conducted a similar study.
“Based on our findings, we believe the passage of Issue 5 will result in significant Arkansas investment, creating or supporting thousands of jobs while providing a new source of tax revenue for the state and local communities,” economist Kyle Dean said in a statement released by the pro-casino group.
Casino campaign spokesman Robert Coon said the study assumed the Boone and Washington county casinos will be comparable in size and amenities to the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tulsa in Oklahoma, which employs roughly 1,500 people. The Miller County casino will be comparable to the Cherokee Casino Roland in Oklahoma which has a staff of 500 people, Coon said.
The numbers are based on market estimates on feasibility studies for each location that have looked at revenue from casinos in similar markets, Coon said.
If approved by voters in the Nov. 8 election, the casinos would be operated by companies owned by supporters of the measure, who could transfer licenses to whomever they choose; the pro-casino group has said the Cherokee Nation would operate the one in Washington County.
Under the proposal, 18 percent of each casino’s net gambling receipts would go toward the state, another .5 percent would go to the county and 1.5 percent would go to the city.
Protect Arkansas Values/Stop Casinos Now, the group opposed the measure, dismissed the study and noted that the consultants who worked on it also did research for the Cherokee Nation. The anti-casino group is funded by a Hot Springs horse track and a West Memphis dog track that offer video poker and other electronic gambling games.
“This ‘study’ is political propaganda and not worth the paper it’s printed on,” chairman Chuck Lange said in a statement.
Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who opposes the measure, said he believes it’s “far from” being about job creation.
“This issue will most certainly have a negative impact on our communities, and it will no doubt create out-of-state monopolies,” Hutchinson said in a statement. “This is a bad deal for our state.”
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