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Gulfside casino gets Arkansas Racing Commission’s license

June 19, 2020 GMT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Mississippi-based Gulfside Casino Partnership won the Arkansas Racing Commission’s license to construct and operate a casino in Pope County.

The seven-member commission selected Gulfside on Thursday, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. The panel spent about three hours hearing presentations and questioning representatives from both companies.

Gulfside was selected over Oklahoma-based Cherokee Nation Businesses based on the commissioners’ total score of 637 for Gulfside compared with 572 for Cherokee Nation Businesses, commission Chairman Alex Lieblong announced.

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Dustin McDaniel, legal counsel for Cherokee Nation Businesses, argued the scoring was flawed and promised to contest the decision.

Commissioner Butch Rice of Beebe gave Gulfside a score of 100, compared with his score of 29 for the Cherokees. The 71-point difference in his totals was larger than the difference in the commissioners’ scores overall.

“We anticipate both an administrative appeal and a request for injunctive relief from a court. This is a uniquely significant state decision, and such an egregious act of bad faith should not be allowed to control it,” McDaniel said.

The scoring was based on the applicants’ experience with casino gambling; timeline for opening the casino; proof of financial stability and access to financial resources; and summary of the proposed casino. The timeline was worth at most 10 points and each other item was worth a maximum of 30 points.

The deputy attorney general for state agencies, Butch Reeves, had warned the commission at the outset to not have a huge difference between the scores.

“If you give somebody 30 and then the next party zero, your score is considered arbitrary and can get us in trouble. We may be back here again if that happens,” he said.

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