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Casino Bill May Reach Arkansas Ballot

By Brian Chan on January 17, 2010  Email it!    Print Version

Play Slots at Rushmore Casino! LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS -- A businessman who previously abandoned an attempt to get legalized casino gambling on the state ballot in Arkansas is trying again. Michael Wasserman is circulating a petition through his organization, Arkansas Resorts and Hotels, seeking signatures to let voters decide whether the state should license casinos.

Wasserman had mounted a similar campaign in 2006, only to decide to give up after six months of rough sledding in acquiring the necessary signatures as the death of his sister disrupted his efforts. That measure had encountered increased resistance as it also would have authorized a state lottery.

But Arkansas now has a lottery, showing a more relaxed attitude toward gaming, and giving supporters a less expansive increase in gambling to sell undecided voters.

The bill would permit seven casinos, one each in seven counties, and give Wasserman special permission to operate both gambling and liquor sales around the clock, even in dry counties. The locations are to include both the state's most populous, as well as locations near state borders, to attract players from neighboring states.

The bill would place a 5 percent state tax on casino revenue, with city and county taxes not allowed.

Wasserman faces the added stigma of being a Texan, from a state which fuels Arkansans' inferiority complex. Opponents of the petition frequently refer to Wasserman's Texas background, as many voters are sure to reject an outsider's attempt to profit on state casinos.

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