Arkansas Casinos to Reopen May 18 Under Multiple Safety Guidelines

Arkansas State LogoAt a press conference held last Thursday, May 7, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson announced that the state’s three casinos will be able to reopen on May 18 at one-third of their total capacity, with stringent social distancing requirements.

The Arkansas Department of Health was said to have released the exact guidelines for the casinos reopening last Friday, but will likely be released this week ahead of the casinos reopening.

Casino executives seemed excited by the news, which came earlier than many expected in the state. Arkansas’ three casinos which will be able to reopen next Monday are Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs, Southland Casino Racing in West Memphis, and Saracen Casino Annex in Pine Bluff.

Reduced Capacity, Cleaning And Safety Guidelines

Visitors to Arkansas’ three casinos post-shutdown can expect cleaning to happen all throughout the day on the gaming floor. This is to ensure that the properties are kept as safe and sanitized as possible, which will allow guests and staff to have greater peace of mind when they’re on-site.

Carlton Saffa, Project Manager for Saracen Casino Annex, provided some insight into the depth of how sanitation will be handled at the property. Saffa says that when gamblers get up from sitting at or using a particular machine, that a staff member will be there shortly to clean up the area behind them, including the seat and machine surfaces.

Saracen will also have reduced operating hours upon reopening, to allow for more thorough cleaning to take place.

All casinos will have to operate at one-third of the rated capacity of their respective buildings. Saffa says that if Saracen reached that capacity, that “folks will have to wait to come in.”

As far as safety guidelines go, the casinos will likely enforce face coverings for staff members, temperature checks for workers, social distancing guidelines, and plexiglass barriers on the gaming floor.

Some Arkansas Residents Feel It’s Too Soon to Reopen Casinos

While casino executives are eager to get business rolling again, some Arkansas residents, and even some government officials, feel the reopening date is coming too soon and may come at a cost.

West Memphis Mayor Marco McClendon for one, would prefer to wait to reopen the city until June 1.

Arkansas Department of Health Secretary Nate Smith expressed his concerns over casinos opening last month, saying that particularly high-risk since they’re indoors with a significant amount of people in small space, and touching different surfaces.

“I think it’s going to spread around and we’re going to have more outbreaks and it’s just going to be more of a worst-case scenario. We’re just asking for it,” said Jeffrey Wilburn, a resident of West Memphis, Arkansas.

As of Sunday, Arkansas has 4,012 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with around 91 related deaths.

How Arkansas Has Been Affected by COVID-19

According to Gov. Hutchinson, the COVID-19 outbreak has affected “every industry sector” in Arkansas, from grocery stores and small businesses to hospitals and restaurants. Hutchinson stressed the importance of supporting and protecting each industry until the threat of the virus is gone.

State to Reopen Large Venues on May 18, Too

As well as reopening casinos, Gov. Hutchinson announced that large venue areas, such as arenas, stadiums, moving theaters, and bowling alleys, will also be allowed to reopen on May 18, however facilities must not allow more than 50 people to be inside at once.

Stay Tuned

Arkansas seems to be one of the first states to have a definitive reopening date for its casinos. Do you think it’s the right time to reopen? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, and be sure to check back for more coronavirus casino coverage.

Arkansas’ Southland Casino Launches Sports Betting in Time for Super Bowl

Sportsbook Filled with PeopleWest Memphis, Arkansas is setting up their Southland Casino for success, as the gaming complex launched sports betting within days of the Super Bowl.

It appears the timing was coincidental, as Southland maintains that it is sheer coincidence that their sportsbooks would go live just a mere five days before the biggest sporting event in the country.

Senior Director of Marketing for Southland Casino Jeff Strang said “Timing is great. We feed off a population and we’re hoping it’s going to make it more convenient to come here based on time, travel as elsewhere in the Midsouth.”

Super Bowl Weekend Big for Numbers

The Super Bowl brings super betting along with it. New data from the American Gaming Association says 26 million Americans will wager approximately $6.8 billion on Super Bowl 54, a 15% increase from last year’s game as the Kansas City Chiefs face off against the San Francisco 49ers. This year’s Super Bowl will also be the most legally bet on Super Bowl in history.

With Super Bowl 54 expected to see a record number of betting dollars being wagered across the US, Southland Casino will certainly be getting a piece of the pie.

Bill Miller, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association, points to research showing that 75 percent of NFL bettors are more likely to watch a game they have bet on:

“When Americans have skin in the game, it’s clear they are more likely to tune in,” he says. “It means the NFL is starting to realize the $2.3 billion opportunity that comes from sports betting annually.”

Southland Gets Help From Parent Company

Southland Casino is actually owned by the parent company, Delaware North, which recently signed a sports betting deal with IGT after months of a contract dispute with their previous sports betting supplier. The deal they made may have played a role in the timing of the launch date of Southland casino’s sportsbook.

However, any extra revenue will not just benefit Southland Casino. In fact, the entire city of West Memphis is planning to use the extra profit to improve upon and expand the city. Aside from attracting sports bettors, they’re hoping to turn it into a more tourist-friendly destination overall.

Expansions in West Memphis

West Memphis is looking to have a city-wide expansion to boost tourism, and sports betting going live is merely a small part of the plan. The city is also currently undertaking multiple different projects in hopes of bringing in more visitors. The state of Arkansas isn’t necessarily the most popular destination for a vacation in the United States, but the launch of sportsbooks in Southland Casino could be one essential part of the city’s revival.

Strang continues on the benefits for West Memphis by saying, “This adds more inventory to help compete to bring more events to the Memphis area so it compliments Memphis.”

Some of the other projects currently in the works are a 20-story hotel that is under construction, an expanded casino floor for Southland, and more restaurants.

As part of West Memphis Mayor Marco’s vision for a “new” city, it will include a new courthouse, police substation, library and two new fire stations. These essential city services, which were funded for a cool $12 million, will be placed strategically along Broadway Avenue.

“I am happy about the direction West Memphis is going. We haven’t had a building built since 1974. I wasn’t even born then. But, now we are about to have five new buildings,” said West Memphis Mayor Marco McClendon.

More Casinos in Arkansas Set to Open in 2020

Arkansas’ casino industry has been undergoing some major changes. Several Native American tribes in the state have been pushing to open new gambling venues here. More casinos in Arkansas are now set to open in 2020.Arkansas

The state is dealing with several issues right now. One area, in particular, has been at the center of debate between two different tribes that believe they should be granted a gambling license. Today, we’re going to look at what exactly is happening in Arkansas right now.

Let’s get into it!

Arkansas’ Gambling Industry is Growing

Arkansas isn’t typically thought of as the gambling hub of the United States. To date, only a few gambling venues have opened up here. The state does not allow privately-run casinos to operate here, meaning only Native American tribes have permission to run these venues.

Recently, however, many individuals have looked at Arkansas as a hot casino market. There are several neighboring states that currently ban this form of wagering. That means that many individuals in these states may make the trip to Arkansas in order to gamble.

Some of the Native American tribes in Arkansas realize this, as well. Over the past few months, many of these tribes have begun pushing to open more casinos in Arkansas. In Pope County, a debate is raging over which tribe should be granted a casino to operate a casino here.

It’s an interesting time to be a gambling fan in this state. Never before have so many tribes pushed to operate gambling venues here.

Construction is currently taking place on one major new gambling venue in the state. This week, we were given an update on when this casino will open.

Quapaw Nation Casino Set to Open in June of 2020

In April, lawmakers in Arkansas passed a law that greatly expanded the number of gambling options casinos in the state could offer. This breathed new life into Arkansas’ casino industry. Before long, many tribes here began requesting permission to construct entirely new casinos.

Earlier this year, the Quapaw Nation was given permission to open one of these venues. For the past few months, construction of this new gambling venue has been taking place. According to new reports, it’s set to open in June of 2020.

A massive crew of workers has been pushing to get this 500,000 square-foot casino-resort opened by the proposed date. Once it’s completed, the casino will feature more than 2,000 slot machines, 50 table games and several exciting amenities including a spa, theater, and several restaurants.

Allen Dixon, a construction supervisor on the project, commented on what’s taking place to the media this week.

“We’re doing the mechanical piping underground for the chillers, and we need to be out of the way for a crew to come in and pour concrete on the 30th,” he said. 

It’s exciting news. When this venue finally opens, it will become the biggest and best gambling establishment in the state.

Debate Around Pope County Casino License Continues

As we’ve already mentioned, many of Arkansas’ tribes are working to obtain a casino license. For months, two major tribes have been seeking to obtain a casino license in Pope County. This is in the north-west area of the state.

Both the Cherokee and the Choctaw tribes are seeking to obtain a casino license in this area. It’s obviously important, as it’s the last commercial casino set to open in the state. The Choctaw Tribe commented on the licensing application to the media this week.

“The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma has consistently advocated for a fair, open and transparent process,” he said. We hope that the state will take action to allow all proposals to receive fair consideration.”

On January 6th, the Arkansas Racing Commission will decide on which tribe to offer the license to. Hopefully, more casinos in Arkansas will open next year.

Stay tuned for more Arkansas casino news over the next few weeks!