NFL Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones Linked to Arkansas Casino Proposal

Posted on: June 12, 2019, 09:00h. 

Last updated on: June 12, 2019, 09:00h.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is involved in an Arkansas casino proposal through his hospitality company Legends. In a release announced this week, Legends says it’s partnering with the Cherokee Nation Businesses (CNB) to develop a casino resort in Pope County.

Cowboys Jerry Jones Arkansas casino
One of the NFL’s most audacious owners, Dallas Cowboys boss Jerry Jones is teaming with a casino project in Arkansas. (Image: Sports Illustrated)

Legends was founded in 2008 by Jones – an Arkansas native – and the late New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. The company provides hospitality services in the sports and entertainment industries.

In a release, the Oklahoma-based Native American tribe and Legends says its bid would place a casino resort on roughly 135 acres off Interstate 40 in Russellville.

Legends will manage the process for the design and development of the complex, conceive the culinary experience, and help CNB to monetize the guest experience for non-gaming attractions,” the statement explained.

Cowboys CEO Stephen Jones – the billionaire’s oldest son – added, “We are excited to have Legends involved in the process. It is very important to us because of the family history and connection we have to Arkansas.”

The release says more details regarding the project are forthcoming, but as recently reported, the proposal submitted to the Arkansas Racing Commission earlier this month suggested a $200 million property featuring a 300-room hotel.

The NFL regulates how much stake a team owner can have in a gambling-related business. However, the Legends press release suggests that the tribe – not the hospitality group – will own the Arkansas casino.

Local Opinion

Last November, Arkansas voters passed state constitutional referendum Issue 4 with a 54.1 percent majority. But Pope County was one of just 11 counties that voted against the measure.

Issue 4 allowed the state’s Oaklawn and Southland parimutuel racetracks to transition into full-scale casinos, and earmarked one new gaming venue each for Pope and Jefferson counties.

Jefferson voters approved the casino measure with 64.5 percent support. Pope voters opposed the referendum, with just 39.4 percent of residents agreeing to allow a casino.

Along with rejecting the gaming question, Pope voters passed an ordinance requiring a subsequent local vote supporting the casino to gain formal approval. Issue 4 additionally requires the Jefferson and Pope county judges write a letter of support for the casino before the state signs off on the winning proposal.

“They sent a sound message they didn’t want me to write that letter of support,” Pope Judge Ben Cross said this week of his constituents. “They didn’t want the quorum court to do a resolution, but at the same time they passed a measure they thought gave them local control.”

Handful of Options

Regardless of the local opposition, five proposals have been submitted for the Pope casino license.

Along with the Cherokee and Legends plan, the most notable project comes from Hard Rock and Warner Gaming. The proposal calls for a casino, 300-room hotel, conference center, and Hard Rock Café.

Other casino bids came from the Choctaw Nation, an entity called the Gulfside Casino Partnership, and another from Kehl Management. In Jefferson, county officials have already selected the Quapaw Tribe in Oklahoma and its Downstream Development Authority for the sole casino license.