Full Casino Operations Begin in Hot Springs and West Memphis

Apr 1, 2019

Full casino games like blackjack began being offered Monday at Arkansas's two racetracks.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Live gambling is now active in two casinos after voters approved an amendment last fall to allow four casinos to operate in Arkansas. The state’s two racetracks received casino licenses Saturday March 23 and began offering full fledged casino gaming on Monday.

Oaklawn held a ceremony at noon on Monday to launch its new live table games. The mayor of Hot Springs, Pat McCabe joined other local leaders in throwing the ceremonial first die at the casino.  The resort is beginning some major renovations including breaking ground on a 28,000 square foot expansion to the gaming area and building a 200 room luxury hotel.

Jennifer Hoyt, Oaklawn’s media relations manager said, "we're just gearing up to really create a major destination area, with obviously the new games being the first thing for us to offer." Hoyt says the renovations should take two years to complete and by that time the resort expects to have added 400 more positions to its current 1500 member staff.

By 4 a.m. Monday morning Southland was to have transitioned from 14 electronic games of skill to 40 live tabletop games, according to Jeff Strang the casino’s Senior Director of Marketing. He says the racetrack invested about one million dollars into this first step of its expansion plan.  A little over 100 people were hired to compensate for the addition of live gambling including more dealers and supervision for the gaming area. Strang believes the expansion will help the casino to compete with the other gaming options in that area.

Both casinos are working to offer sports wagering soon but Strang says that "from a technological standpoint there's more involved in sports wagering than there is for table games, sports wagering is newer so it takes just a little bit longer for all that to happen." No exact date for when sports betting will be available at either casino has been released but Hoyt with Oaklawn says players should be able to place bets at its casino in the coming weeks.

The application period for the new casinos in Pope and Jefferson County will open May 1- 31.