A constitutional amendment was approved in November 2018 to legalize casinos in Arkansas. Less than five months after the approval, two casino operations are up and running. The Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort and Southland Casino and Racing are both open for business, offering a strong selection of table games and slots.
New gaming options
The Oaklawn and Southland facilities can now offer more gaming to their visitors, thanks to the legality change. For over sixty years, the Southland Gaming and Racing facility offered visitors a chance to watch the races. Now, it has officially become a full-functioning casino. With the new offering comes a new name, Southland Casino Racing.
Located in West Memphis, Southland is expected to spend a total of $250m (€223m) on its new offerings. The expansion into casino gaming, once completed, will offer 400 permanent jobs, on top of the 800 the facility already provides. The investment includes a new hotel as well as the new casino facility.
Oaklawn will also grow in the future, with plans to spend $100m (€89.2m) on an expansion that is also scheduled to start this summer.
Delaware North owns Southland. The CEO of Delaware North, Lou Jacobs, said: “Our investment will include a new casino complex with state-of-the-art games and an exciting culinary program. It will also include a signature 300 room high-rise hotel.”
In the early morning hours on Monday, Southland officially launched casino gaming. Southland offers 2,000 slots and 40 live table games. Oaklawn also launched on Monday, offering a smaller selection, with around 1,300 electronic games and eight live table games.
More to come
While both casinos are up and running, there is still more to come. Southland will start working on the expanded facility this summer. Included in the plans is a 20-story hotel with four restaurants. Even more gaming will be provided, as the casino will add 500 slots and 20 table games.
Oaklawn will also grow in the future, with plans to spend $100m (€89.2m) on an expansion that is also scheduled to start this summer. The new facility will include a hotel with 200 guest rooms, restaurants, and an entertainment venue. An additional 28,000 square feet of space will be provided for gaming.
According to VSO News, the desire to see casinos legalized was renewed in Arkansas in 2018. A proposal for casinos was created as Issue 4, which made it to the midterm ballot in November.
The passage of the amendment allowed the Southland and Oaklawn facilities to become full-service casinos. Casinos will also be allowed in Pope County and Jefferson County. In May, the Racing Commission will begin to accept applications for the two remaining gaming venues.