Cherokee Nation Submits Bid for Pope County Casino License

Cherokee Nation Entertainment (CNE) has submitted its application to operate a casino in Pope County, Arkansas.

The Legend Resort and Casino will feature 1,200 slot machines, 32 table games, a poker room, and a sportsbook.

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The application, which was tendered to the Arkansas Racing Commission, was accompanied by a proposal for CNE’s world-class Legend Resort and Casino Arkansas development project.

The move is the latest step in a five-year effort by the tribe to secure a casino license in the jurisdiction, having already obtained the necessary support from Pope County leaders and purchased land for its proposed resort and casino complex.

For the past five years, we have been laying the groundwork for this one-of-a-kind, shovel-ready commercial casino resort and becoming engrained in the local community. We are honored to have garnered the required support of Pope County leaders, purchased 325 acres of land, and obtained a Large-Scale Development permit from the City of Russellville. With the application now submitted, we are eager to present our plans and vast experience to the Arkansas Racing Commission and earn the state’s final casino license.

Chuck GarretCEO of CNE

Arkansas Supreme Court Delivers Legal Blow

The journey had not been smooth for the Cherokee Nation, as they had encountered a series of legal setbacks, which had significantly impacted their casino development plans. Most notable was the Arkansas Supreme Court's rejection of the proposal after the Arkansas Racing Commission had previously granted the tribe a license.

According to the State's Supreme Court, the commission erred by awarding the license in 2021 since the regulatory body is not allowed to grant licenses to multiple entities. Also, Legends lacks the necessary prior experience in casino gaming to qualify for a permit.

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The court also upheld a lower court's decision, which ruled that granting a Pope County casino license to Legends Resort and Casino and Cherokee Nation businesses would contravene Amendment 100 of the Arkansas Constitution.

However, the Cherokee Nation has received support from various quarters, most importantly, Pope County Judge Ben Cross, who has publicly approved the tribe's casino license bid.

A $300 Million Bet on Russellville

The Cherokee Nation's proposal involves building a $300 million casino on its owned land in Russellville, Arkansas, acquired for $35 million. The project's key features include a 50,000-square-foot casino with 1,200 slot machines, 32 table games, a poker room, and a sportsbook.

The development will also feature a 200-room hotel with a resort pool and a luxury spa, multipurpose space for meetings and concerts, and other attractions like an RV park, a dog park, and a water park.

CNE projects that the resort will boost Arkansas' economy by $5 billion over the first decade and create significant direct and indirect employment opportunities.


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