Cherokee Nation Entertainment Secures License for Pope County Casino

The Arkansas Racing Commission (ARC) has granted Cherokee Nation Entertainment (CNE) a license to construct a casino in Pope County, concluding a prolonged and controversial process.

The ARC’s decision, announced on June 27, aligns with a 2018 constitutional amendment allowing four casinos in Arkansas. This license marks the fourth and final casino under this amendment. CNE’s application, scoring 651 out of 700 points, received high praise from gaming consultant Jim Fox.

“The Racing Commission is pleased to complete the process and issue the license as required by Amendment 100,” said ARC spokesperson Scott Hardin, highlighting the thorough review process.

Development Plans for Legends Casino

CNE plans to develop Legends Casino, a 50,000-square-foot facility northeast of Russellville. The casino will feature 1,200 slot machines, 32 table games, a poker room, and a sportsbook. Additionally, the project includes a 200-room hotel, conference center, outdoor music venue, water park, and RV and dog parks.

Chuck Garrett, CEO of Cherokee Nation Entertainment, expressed readiness to proceed. “With the license in hand, we are prepared to finalize the remaining permitting and administrative processes so we can commence construction,” he affirmed.

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Despite the approval, challenges may persist. Initially awarded to Gulfside Casino Partnership, the Pope County license was revoked due to legal disputes. After the application process reopened in 2023, CNE’s proposal prevailed over Gulfside’s incomplete submission lacking local support.

Looking ahead, a group supported by the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma seeks to challenge the license through a ballot measure in November, needing 90,704 voter signatures by July 5.

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