LITTLE ROCK — Supporters of a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow casino-style gambling in four counties in Arkansas failed to submit enough valid signatures to place the measure on the Nov. 6 general election ballot, the secretary of state’s office said Monday.
Alex Reed, spokesman for the secretary of state’s office, said workers were not finished counting the signatures by 5 p.m., but Nancy Todd’s Poker Palace LLC was informed that it was short and would have 30 days to gather the necessary signatures.
On July 6, the last day to turn in petitions, Nancy Todd turned in 80,373 signatures. Todd, a professional poker player who spearheaded the gaming amendment, needed 78,333 to qualify for the ballot.
The proposal, which would allow casinos in Crittenden, Franklin, Miller and Pulaski counties, has already survived one challenge by opponents and another is pending.
Secretary of State Mark Martin issued an administrative declaration Thursday denying a challenge to the constitutionality of the ballot by Elizabeth Williams of Little Rock.
Williams claimed in a petition filed with the secretary of state that the proposal was unfair because it would give Todd’s Poker Palace LLC a monopoly, and she questioned how the tax revenues from the casinos in the counties would be distributed.
A second challenge filed by Stop Casinos Now is being reviewed by the attorney general’s office.
The coalition of law enforcement, community leaders and elected officials also claims that the proposal did not properly inform voters that it would repeal the state’s ban on monopolies.
One of the primary backers of Stop Casinos Now is Delaware North, owner of Southland Greyhound Park in West Memphis, which operates electronic games of skill.
A Texas businessman who filed a separate proposed amendment that would legalize casino gambling in seven counties has lost his appeal of a decision by the secretary of state that he did not get the required amount of signatures.
Michael Wasserman did not immediately return a call seeking comment Monday but has said he plans to appeal the secretary of state’s decision to the state Supreme Court.
The secretary of state said last week that Wasserman failed to meet a requirement that signatures submitted equal at least 5 percent of the votes case for governor in 2010 in 15 counties.
Wasserman’s submitted 83,777 signatures on July 6 from 16 counties, but signatures in Prairie, Saline and Woodruff were short of the 5 percent threshold.
Wasserman appealed the ruling, claiming state law allowed him 30 days to collect the necessary signatures.
Martin’s office said Friday it would not honor Wasserman’s appeal, which included a request for an additional 30 days to gather signatures.
Under the proposed constitutional amendment, Wasserman’s Arkansas Hotels and Entertainment would operate casinos in Boone, Crittenden, Garland, Jefferson, Miller, Pulaski and Sebastian counties.