Pope County Judge Ben Cross

Statement by Pope County Judge Ben Cross in response to pleadings filed against the Arkansas Racing Commission:

“Throughout this entire process to license a casino in Pope County, I have had a legal constitutional mandate to maintain fiduciary responsibility for the best interests of our county; and while the majority of Pope county residents initially rejected the premise of a casino being located in our community, nevertheless, the state of Arkansas voted otherwise and we were left with assessing the situation and moving forward to select the best operator.

After an exhaustive vetting process in which Legends, LLC was ultimately chosen as the operator of choice by Pope county officials, the Arkansas Racing Commission neglected to act in the best fiduciary interests of the State of Arkansas by selecting an inferior applicant, even after their own independent consultant unanimously supported the selection of Legends, LLC as well. This egregious act funded at taxpayer expense, combined with a unanimous finding of bias within the ranks of the racing commission itself, has now brought about the intention of the current license holder to construct a “temporary annex casino.” This is simply unacceptable, and the very action we sought to eliminate by our selection of vendor. Gulfside owner, Terry Green, stated before the Racing Commission on June 18, 2020 that his casino would be constructed in a single phase, with promises of grandeur and future expansion, only to be checked by reality with his submission of a minimalist operation to the Russellville Planning Commission on September 28th. An act which has area residents already referring to it as the “truck-stop casino.”

Therefore, this action is taken to safeguard our community against actions which have no definition or scope of time, and which ultimately will have a less than promised economic impact.”