LITTLE ROCK — A proposed constitutional amendment by a Texas businessman that would allow casinos in seven counties in Arkansas was ruled ineligible for the November general election ballot Wednesday because it did not meet a signature requirement.
Alex Reed, spokesman for Secretary of State Mark Martin, said the proposal by Michael Wasserman failed to meet a requirement that signatures submitted equal at least 5 percent of the votes cast for governor in 2010 in 15 counties.
Reed said Wasserman submitted 83,777 signatures on Friday from 16 counties, but signatures in Prairie, Saline and Woodruff counties were short of the 5 percent threshold.
Martin’s office said the secretary of state notified Wasserman of the signature shortfall and that Wasserman has seven days to challenge the decision.
Wasserman did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment Wednesday afternoon.
Under the proposed constitutional amendment, Wasserman’s Arkansas Hotels and Entertainment would operate casinos in Boone, Crittenden, Garland, Jefferson, Miller, Pulaski and Sebastian counties.
Signatures for another proposed constitutional amendment that would allow casinos in four Arkansas counties are currently being reviewed by the secretary of state’s office.
That proposal would allow Nancy Todd’s Poker Palace LLC to operate casino-style table games and up to four casinos in Crittenden, Franklin, Miller and Pulaski counties.
The secretary of state’s office also is reviewing signatures for proposed initiatives that would raise the severance tax on natural gas from 5 percent to 7 percent and legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.