An Arkansas resident has filed a lawsuit against the racing commission for “misapplication of taxpayer funds” as it has failed to direct money towards problem gambling since casino gaming was approved in the state over three years ago.
No funds have been directed to problem gambling in the three years since casino gaming launched
At that time the electorate voted to allow the state’s two racinos in Oaklawn and Southland expand their betting operations to include full-scale casino gaming including slot machines, table games, and sports betting. The vote also allows for the establishment of two new casinos in the state, one in Pope County and another in Jefferson County.
As part of the move to allow casino gaming, the state undertook to pay $200,000 each year into problem gambling programs and education. Yet despite this being written into the state constitution, there have been no funds directed to problem gambling since casino gaming launched in 2019.
Joe Denton, the attorney representing Faneisha Mosely, the resident taking the legal action, told THV11:
“This seems to be the only portion of Amendment 100 that hasn’t been fully implemented. When you consider the overall cost of implementing this portion of the amendment, compared to the revenues that would be generated by casino gambling, it seems like it’s rather silly that we haven’t already moved funding for this project.”
Through the lawsuit Denton argues that the commission has acted in a way that is “contrary to the clear and unambiguous language of Amendment 100 of the Arkansas Constitution.”
He is seeking a order that compels the commission to provide a minimum of $200,000 every year towards problem gambling treatment and that this should be backdated to 2019.
Scott Hardin, a spokesperson for the Arkansas Racing Commission, told THV11:
“I understand why someone would say ‘why is this not in place. But our position is we’re almost there.”
Following the news of the lawsuit, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has directed the state Department of Finance and Administration to use $200,000 from the rainy day fund. These funds would allow the state to secure a contract with a company that can provide and run problem gambling programs.
Denton has suggested that his client will drop the lawsuit if the state shows that it is committed to tackling the issue of problem gambling.