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Arkansas Awards First Two Casino Licenses

Racinos in Hot Springs and West Memphis Will Start Full Casino Gaming On April 1


In just five days, gamblers in Arkansas will have full-fledged casino gaming in their state.

Last week, the Arkansas Racing Commission approved two racinos for full casino licenses. On Saturday, the commission approved Oaklawn Racing and Gaming in Hot Springs and Southland Park Gaming and Racing in West Memphis to for the state’s first two casino licenses.

Last November, the citizens of Arkansas voted to pass Issue 4, an amendment to the state’s constitution that grants casino licenses to four operators.

With casino licenses in hand, the two racinos will begin to offer full casino gaming on April 1.

Prior to the license, gamblers were only allowed to wager on the dog races at Southland, the horse races at Oaklawn, and slot machines.

Starting in April, they will offer craps, roulette, blackjack, Mississippi stud, and three card poker. Both casinos want to offer sports betting, which Arkansas legalized in the same election as casinos, but the regulatory framework is not yet in place.

Casino officials from both properties have said that they hope to be fully transitioned to a casino by the summer with a poker room and sportsbook.

When voters approved the amendment last year, it stated that two licenses would go to existing tracks and two new casinos would be built.

Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration spokesman Scott Hardin told local media that the commission will begin to accept applications in May for the final two licenses. According to Hardin, one casino will be in Jefferson County and the final will be located in Pope County.