Arkansas Racing Commission awards license for Pope County casino
Arkansas Racing Commission awards license for Pope County casino
Wild Casino

POPE COUNTY, Ark. – Plans to build a casino in Pope County moved forward Thursday after an Arkansas state board awarded a license to developers.

The Arkansas Racing Commission awardedthe license after scoring an application submitted by Cherokee Nation Entertainment. Earlier this month, the commission voted to proceed with the application to build the Cherokee Nation-sponsored Legends Casino project in Russellville.

Mississippi-based Gulfside Casino Partnership had also put in a bid against Cherokee Nation Entertainment to receive the license, a rivalry that has been in motion since 2018. The commission rejected its application earlier this month due to lack ofrequired support.

Cherokee Nation Entertainment received support from Pope County Judge Ben Cross and the Pope County Quorum Court. At least one was required for the company’s application to be considered valid.

“They have a track record that is proven, and I am going to stick with a proven track record,” Cross said.

Voters in Arkansas passed a constitutional amendment that would allow four casinos to open in Crittenden, Garland, Jefferson and Pope Counties.

Now that a Pope County casino license has been awarded, developers would need to receive additional permits to build. Officials with Cherokee Nation said that construction would be completed within 18 months, bringing more than 1,000 jobs to the area.

CEO of Cherokee Nation Entertainment & Cherokee Nation Businesses Chuck Garrett said the project will include a hotel, restaurants, an outdoor concert facility, 15,000 square feet of indoor space in addition to 50,000 square feet for gaming and sports betting.

The casino is planned to be located on Interstate 40 between exit 83 and exit 84 near Russellville.