The state Racing Commission will meet at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 4, to consider the Cherokee Nation’s request to open the door to consideration of its application to operate a casino in Pope County.

The Cherokees are citing a rule that says a new application for a permit may be considered after the 30-day application period for “good cause.”

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The cause is that the Cherokees now have the approval of local elected officials that was lacking from all five applicants for a permit in the original 30-day application period. A second application period was opened by the Commission, but a judge ruled the second application period wasn’t provided by law. An extension of time in the first period, however, apparently is possible “for good cause.”

At this point, only the Cherokees have applied under the “good cause” theory. Gulfside Casino Partnership of Mississippi has a lawsuit pending arguing that its initial application met constitutional standards because it included an endorsement from local officials at the time the amendment was approved last year. The Racing Commission subsequently adopted a rule requiring local approval by current officeholders, which only the Cherokees have. Judge Tim Fox has set a hearing on the Gulfside lawsuit on March 30. They contend the Racing Commission rule is unconstitutional.

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