by Max Brantley
Whoops. Missed this. Shortly before the deadline this afternoon, Texas promoter Michael Wasserman turned in petitions with sufficient signatures, if they are verified, for a constitutional amendment that would allow him to operate casinos in seven counties, including Garland. That should rouse the Oaklawn casino operator, which has mostly left earlier casino opposition to the Southland casino in West Memphis, which would be directly threatened with competition by Nancy Todd's four-casino amendment.
The secretary of state has a lot of verifying to do, with these two amendments, plus initiated acts to legalize medical marijuana and to increase the severance tax on natural gas.
A few more words about Wasserman. He's been working for years on reaching the ballot with a casino amendment in Arkansas. He was working on it six years ago. and fell short on an earlier petition drive. Unfortunately, the Arkansas Ethics Commission website isn't functioning at the moment. I know Wasserman has been filing regular reports for his casino committee, but my recollection was that they hadn't shown much financial activity. He's unlikely to have gathered sufficient valid signatures without help from a professional canvassing consultant. As the unsuccessful ethics law drive organizers learned, even that is sometimes not enough. I'll check it when I can.
It will be at least a month or more before we know which of these, if any, actually will be on the November election ballot.