Casino Bill May Reach Arkansas Ballot

A businessman who previously abandoned an attempt to get legalized casino gambling on the state ballot in Arkansas is trying again. Michael Wasserman is circulating a petition through his organization, Arkansas Resorts and Hotels, seeking signatures to let voters decide whether the state should license casinos.

Wasserman had mounted a similar campaign in 2006, only to decide to give up after six months of rough sledding in acquiring the necessary signatures as the death of his sister disrupted his efforts. That measure had encountered increased resistance as it also would have authorized a state lottery. But Arkansas now has a lottery, showing a more relaxed attitude toward gaming, and giving supporters a less expansive increase in gambling to sell undecided voters.

The bill would permit seven casinos, one each in seven counties, and give Wasserman special permission to operate both gambling and liquor sales around the clock, even in dry counties. The locations are to include both the state's most populous, as well as locations near state borders, to attract players from neighboring states. The bill would place a 5 percent state tax on casino revenue, with city and county taxes not allowed.

Wasserman faces the added stigma of being a Texan, from a state which fuels Arkansans' inferiority complex. Opponents of the petition frequently refer to Wasserman's Texas background, as many voters are sure to reject an outsider's attempt to profit on state casinos.

Casino petition should lead to Arkansas referendum

Michael Wasserman, a businessman who earlier gave up his efforts for a referendum regarding legalizing casino gambling in the state of Arkansas, has started another attempt. Through his organization, Arkansas Resorts and Hotels, circulates a petition to give voters the opportunity to decide if casinos should be legalized in the state.

Michael Wasserman

The businessman initiated a comparable campaign in 2006, which he had to abandon after a half year due to the decease of his sister. That measure had met increased opposition because it also would have legalized a state lottery, which didn’t exist at the time. But currently the state of Arkansas has a lottery, reflecting an eased stance regarding gaming. Due to the existing state lottery, legalizing casinos would result in a less extensive expansion of gambling activities.

Gambling ventures

The bill would authorize seven gambling ventures, one each in seven districts, and permit Wasserman to run gambling and liquor sales 24/7, including in dry districts. The locations are situated in Arkansas’ most populous counties, as well as close to state borders, in order to allure gamblers from bordering states. The bill would lead to a 5% state tax on revenues made by gambling ventures, with district and city taxes not permitted.


Wasserman is confronted with his Texas background, the state which stimulates Arkansas’ sense of inferiority. Those who disapprove the bill often refer to his Texas origin, since numerous voters certainly disallow an effort from somebody outside Arkansas to profit on state gambling ventures.
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