Casino Revenue Up Overall in Arkansas, Even With Fewer Sportsbook Bets

Posted on: May 21, 2021, 02:55h. 

Last updated on: May 21, 2021, 04:28h.

Arkansas’ casinos had a combined higher win total during April than in the previous month. This occurred despite a decline in bets placed at each casino sportsbook.

Southland Casino Racing
The hotel tower under construction at Southland Casino Racing in West Memphis, Ark., is displayed for the media at an unveiling. The tower is expected to be completed in 2022. (Image: KLRT-TV)

Overall, the three licensed casinos in Arkansas won a combined $2.4 million more in April than in March, according to figures released this week by the Arkansas Racing Commission. 

This revenue total follows a big winning month in March, as the state emerged from February’s severe winter weather. The casinos also benefited during March from the nationwide rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and stimulus checks. 

The three commercial casinos in Arkansas are Oaklawn Casino Racing Resort in Hot Springs, Southland Casino Racing in West Memphis, and Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff. A fourth casino has been licensed for Russellville, but is tied up in a legal dispute.

SportsBooks Down at Saracen, Table Games Up

In April, the winning streak continued at Saracen. The resort won $1.9 million more in April than the previous month. 

Saracen experienced a slight falloff at the sportsbook, which won about $123,000 less in April than in March. Sportsbook revenue is determined after winning bettors have been paid off.     

March is traditionally a strong sports-wagering month, with the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, known as “March Madness,” occurring during the month. The NFL regular season, which kicks off in September, generally is the busiest time of the year for sportsbooks.

In April, Saracen’s sportsbook handle dipped below $1 million. The resort reported $964,218 in bets placed, down from $1.45 million in March. The handle is the amount of money bet on sporting events. However, the casino posted higher net wins at table games and on terminal devices, such as slot machines.

Pine Bluff is about 45 minutes south of Little Rock, the capital city. Little Rock is in the center of the state.

Saracen was in the news this month with the installation of Evolv metal detectors on the property. The resort ordered the devices after a shootout in the parking lot in March that wounded a security guard. Two suspects were arrested in the incident and charged with first degree battery. 

Growth Continues at Oaklawn 

Oaklawn also had an overall casino win in April, pulling in $660,807 more than in March. Its wins at terminal devices and table games were up in April when compared to the previous month. 

However, the sportsbook win total at Oaklawn was down from $182,774 in March to $172,062 in April. 

Oaklawn’s sportsbook handle dipped below $1 million in April. The handle at the Hot Springs resort was $1.6 million in March, but fell to $901,475 the next month.

Oaklawn recently completed a $100 million expansion, including an eight-story, 198-room hotel. Hot Springs is about an hour southwest of Little Rock.

Southland Construction Underway

Southland was the only property that had a lower overall win total in April than in March. It was down $178,101 in April, after reporting lower win totals at table games and terminal devices. 

Southland’s sportsbook handle also was lower in April. The sports-betting handle at the property went from $2.88 million in March to $2.20 million in April. However, the sportsbook showed a higher win total, collecting $88,324 more in April than the previous month.

By 2022, Southland plans to complete a 21-story hotel and add more gaming space. The casino and dog track are across the Mississippi River from the larger Memphis, Tenn., metropolitan area. 

Southland is slated to end dog racing at its track next year, though the resort will remain fully operational.