“Everything is aboveboard,” Malone said.
Cross wrote a letter of support for Cherokee Nation Businesses after he negotiated a $38.8 million economic development agreement with the business. Dustin McDaniel, Cherokee Nation Businesses’ attorney, said the Pope County license was issued “properly and consistently” with Racing Commission rules and “CNB’s application.” When asked for comment about the legal challenge, Racing Commission spokesman Scott Hardin said the commission was aware of the complaint made in Tuesday’s filing, and that “a very similar issue is pending before Judge Fox.” “When the Arkansas Racing Commission issued the license, we were surprised to see that they issued it to something called ‘Cherokee Nation Businesses, LLC/Legends Resort and Casino, LLC,'” Jerry Malone, the attorney for Goodin, said. “There is no such entity. We researched the secretary of state’s office and there is no listing for this company.”
The Racing Commission did not open the first application period until May 2019. “This is his fervent belief that he wants to go forward with this,” Malone said. “We are confident in our legal position and will work quickly to dismiss this new lawsuit which rehashes old allegations already addressed by the Arkansas Racing Commission, not to mention the Commission’s expert consultant which found CNB to have superior experience,” McDaniel said. The Cherokees plan to construct Legends — a $225 million casino and resort with 1,100 slot machines, 32 table games and 200 hotel rooms — near Russellville, off Hob Nob Road. Print Headline: Suit over casino license in Pope County claims firm lacks experience All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. The amendment allows casinos in Pope and Jefferson counties as well as at the established race tracks in Hot Springs and West Memphis. Copyright © 2022, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. “CNB’s history in the hospitality and gaming industry spans more than three decades,” Chuck Garrett, CEO of Cherokee Nation Businesses, said in an email Tuesday. “We helped pioneer casino gaming in Oklahoma, and our operations have grown to include 10 casinos and associated hospitality amenities, including restaurants, entertainment venues, hotels, golf courses, and a horseracing track.” The case — filed by John “Cliff” Goodin in the courtroom of Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox — also takes issue with how the license recipient’s name is listed on the gambling license issued last month. Cherokee Nation Businesses later submitted an application to the Racing Commission after gaining support from Ben Cross, the current Pope County county judge, as well as from the Pope County Quorum Court members at the time.
The initial case was brought by Mississippi casino operator Gulfside Casino Partnership in 2019 after its license application was denied by the Racing Commission because its letter of support was signed by then-Pope County Judge Jim Ed Gibson just days before his term expired on Dec. 31, 2018. Goodin asked in the petition for a declaratory judgment and injunction that Fox declare that the Racing Commission unconstitutionally issued the license despite Legends not being a qualified applicant under Amendment 100 and to declare it unconstitutional for the commission to award the license to the “non-applicant entity” Cherokee Nation Businesses LLC/Legends Resort and Casino LLC. “Any license that is awarded in contravention of the Arkansas Constitution, other applicable law, or the Arkansas casino gaming rules should be declared invalid,” Stiritz said. Choctaw Nation — an early contender for the Pope County license — recently filed a motion to intervene in that case.