WEST MEMPHIS, AR (abc24.com) — Her opposition is afraid of a little competition. That's what Nancy Todd is saying as she fights to bring Las Vegas style casinos to Arkansas.
Todd is a political consultant and also owns "Nancy Todd's Poker Palace" in Little Rock. Legislators, law enforcement, and other gaming venues strongly oppose her plan.
Those who oppose Todd formed a committee called "Stop Casinos Now." The group says her casino would mean bad business for the state of Arkansas. Currently, electronic gambling is only allowed in two places in Arkansas: Oaklawn and Southland Race Parks.
“They've been great corporate citizens in the community and it seems like every 2 years some cockamamie plan to put a casino in Arkansas,” said Representative Keith Ingram of West Memphis.
Ingram is part of the group opposed to Todd’s idea. He says her casino would be an unregulated monopoly.
"They try to benefit themselves at the expense of existing businesses as well as the expense of the state of Arkansas and our citizens,” said Ingram.
“There's already a monopoly within the state of Arkansas. It's been there for 100 years so I'm not trying to create one I’m trying to bust one,” Nancy Todd told abc24 news in a phone interview. “As far as the regulatory body goes, I haven't mastered that one yet. I'm looking at options on how to regulate it."
Southland Park supports the "Stop Casinos Now" campaign. Southland's general manager, Troy Keeping, claims he doesn't mind the competition he just wants to make sure it'll benefit residents.
"Southland's economic impact within our region is over $67 million dollars,” said Troy Keeping. “This particular proposal will not really contribute to Crittenden County.”
Residents we spoke with loved the idea of a new casino.
"It'll be fine, competition is always good," said West Memphis resident Butch Higginbothan.
"I would love it because it'll be more jobs for us,” said another resident, Marrett McCleandon.
"We go to Southland every now and then and I've tried playing their games and it's confusing. I'd rather have a real dealer," said West Memphis resident Lauri Hughes.
The initiative calls for casinos in Miller, Franklin, Pulaski, and Crittenden County and needs close to 80,000 signatures to make it on the ballot this November.