Arkansas attorney general certifies casino proposal

A proposed constitutional amendment that would allow casinos to be built from border to border in Arkansas could again go before voters.

State Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has approved the wording of the casino proposal by Texas businessman Michael Wasserman, owner of Arkansas Hotels and Entertainment Inc. The amendment would give Wasserman’s company exclusive rights to build and operate casinos in Boone, Crittenden, Garland, Jefferson, Miller, Pulaski and Sebastian counties.

McDaniel previously rejected the proposed amendment in February, saying its ballot title was unclear. In a letter dated Monday, the attorney general said his office made some grammatical changes to the measure, but otherwise left it alone.

Wasserman, who runs an internet service provider in Gainesville, Texas, told The Associated Press that he planned to hire professional signature gatherers to gather the 77,468 signatures necessary to put the measure on the 2010 ballot. Wasserman said that effort likely would begin in May.

In 2006, Wasserman struck a deal with the Arkansas AFL-CIO to help collect signatures for the proposal. The businessman ended that effort after the death of his sister.

The proposal could return to voters who now seem less leery of gambling in a Bible Belt state. Voters recently have allowed a state lottery, as well as charity raffles and bingo games to be held throughout Arkansas. A Hot Springs horse racing track and a West Memphis dog track also have electronic casino-style games after voter-approved initiatives.

„It’s a pretty strong indication that Arkansans are more accepting of gaming,“ Wasserman said Tuesday. „Right now, with the economy the way it is, I would think Arkansans are looking for the increased flow of people with buying dollars.“