• Southland and Oaklawn Racing are expected to launch sports betting operations by summertime
  • A $250 million privately-funded expansion is also expected to launch in the summertime at Southland
  • WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. – Advertisements to promote the opening of the now legal sports betting operations at Southland Gaming & Racing have started.

Since the Arkansas Racing Commission approved the wagering regulations on February 21, both Southland and Oaklawn Racetracks have been excited about the expansion into the powerful industry.

There is no mention to when they will begin to offer their services, as their website does not even mention the word “sportsbook”. However, lawmakers set expectations for a summer 2019 launch date after requiring the regulations to be approved within 120 days of the amendment passing, or this Thursday.

None of the regulations were unexpected except the requirement that wagering on collegiate athletic events requires being present at the licensed casino. “Keeping it in house” is designed to prevent any integrity issues but still allowing for a variety of betting lines on local, in-state teams.

The regulations were copied, almost freely, from Nevada’s gaming policy; furthermore, Southland Gaming & Racing is ready to expand not only their gaming options but their casino and hotel as well.

The Southland Hotel And Sportsbook Expansion

Operated by Delaware North who announced the $250 expansion in January, Southland will be granted with the “largest ever investment in a casino in Arkansas” according to Delaware North co-CEO, Lou Jacobs.

A new 20-story high-rise hotel will consist of 72 corner suites, 12 penthouse suites, and 216 standard rooms and will be located adjacent to a parking garage of 1,250 spaces. For the gaming floor, the casino will increase the gaming machines by 400, increase their live table game number, and expand the dining options from buffet choices to a large steakhouse.

A coffee shop, new player lounge, bars, and food hall will also be added in the 113,00 square foot casino privately-funded expansion.

This will not interfere with gaming operations and is scheduled to begin this summer and end by the next one. The hotel phase of the project is scheduled to be finished before the start of 2021.

For Every Action Is An Equal And Opposite Reaction

While the expansion is great news for Arkansas and even the Memphis, Tennessee area, the casino market in Tunica, MS will not be so fortunate.

Tunica is only 40 miles from Southland Racing and has taken much of the Tennessee and Arkansas clientele for years.

Since the voter-approved measure that legalizing sports betting in Arkansas and the announcement of the Southland expansion, Tunica casino have already prepared for the worst.

Caesars even closed their second casino in five years, when they shut down Tunica Roadhouse Casino near the end of last year. The facility employed 375 gaming employees and while some were able to transfer to Horseshoe Casino, roughly a third ended up losing their job.

Caesars closed both of their casinos on the premises of “persistent declines in business and increased competition” and the numbers back up their mindset.

The Tunica gaming market generated over $1 billion from gaming revenue 10 years ago. With a 6% decrease year-after-year, the industry only took in $595 million in more recent years, according to state revenue reports.

With the advancement of sports betting in Arkansas, it will be interesting to see how the gambling market in Tunica, and Mississippi in general, will be effected in the upcoming years.

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