"We're very glad to hear this proposal won't be on the ballot in November," said Cox. "Both of the casino proposals
submitted to the Secretary of State last week try to write private corporations--by name--into the Arkansas
Constitution. This vaguely worded amendment would have granted a monopoly to Mr. Michael Wasserman's
company, Arkansas Hotels and Entertainment, Inc. That is something Arkansas does not need."
The proposed constitutional amendment would have allowed the company to operate casinos in seven Arkansas
counties. According to a statement released by the Secretary of State's office, petition canvassers seeking to put the
proposal on the November ballot failed to meet the constitutional requirement that a certain percentage of signatures
be gathered in at least fifteen Arkansas counties.
"It's an understandable provision in the law," Cox said. "I have helped with five initiative and referendum campaigns
gathering signatures to place measures on the ballot. One of the checks and balances for that process is that you can't
just go to Little Rock, collect a hundred thousand signatures, and go home. You have to collect signatures from all
across the state. Otherwise citizens in populated areas like Pulaski County could make state laws at the expense of
folks in less populated areas.
"I think the fact that Mr. Wasserman could not gather the minimum number of signatures in the necessary counties
shows that there simply was not widespread public support for his measure."
Cox went on to say that he hopes the proposed constitutional amendment by Nancy Todd's Poker Palace will also be
invalidated. "From what I've heard, the folks over at Nancy Todd's Poker Palace paid dearly to gather their
signatures. If you're paying petition canvassers one or two dollars for every signature they get, that produces a
different kind of tenacity on their part. Theirs may not fail on the same grounds that Mr. Wasserman's did. However,
the process of validating those signatures is a long one, and it's entirely possible, when it's all said and done, that they
simply won't have all the signatures necessary to get on the ballot either. In the meantime, we'll just have to wait and see."
Wednesday story :
Secretary of State Mark Martin's Elections Division today notified Arkansas Hotels and Entertainment, Inc., that its petition for a proposed Amendment to the Arkansas Constitution was invalid. The Amendment sought to allow Arkansas Hotels and Entertainment, Inc., to own and operate seven casino gambling establishments, one each in Sebastian, Pulaski, Garland, Miller, Crittenden, Boone, and Jefferson Counties. The Sponsor is Arkansas Hotels and Entertainment, Inc., led by Michael Wasserman. The sponsor submitted an insufficient number of signatures, from fifteen separate counties, prior to the deadline.
The Arkansas Constitution requires at least ten percent of legal voters to initiate a petition to amend the Arkansas Constitution (Article 5, Section 1, commonly referred to as "Amendment 7 to the Arkansas Constitution"). In addition, the Constitution provides that "it shall be necessary to file from at least fifteen of the counties of the State, petitions bearing the signatures of not less than one-half of the designated percentage of the electors of such county." Amend. 7. In other words, if 1000 people voted for Governor in a particular county, a petition for a proposed constitutional amendment would require five percent (5%), one half of the designated percentage, or the signatures of at least 50 qualified electors. It is this provision of the Constitution which the sponsor failed to meet.