Arkansas’ Oaklawn Casino to Reopen with Restrictions After Two-Month Closure

Posted on: May 13, 2020, 10:07h. 

Last updated on: May 14, 2020, 08:40h.

Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs, Ark., said Wednesday that it will be ready to reopen its casino Monday, May 18 at 9 a.m. in accordance with state guidelines.

Oaklawn Arkansas casino repoen
Under reopening guidelines that will take effect on Monday, patrons at Oaklawn’s casino will not be able to play slots or other machines side-by-side. (Image: Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort)

Monday is the first day Arkansas casinos will be able to open, after an announcement by Gov. Asa Hutchinson last week. The casino closed on March 16 after two area residents tested positive for the coronavirus.

When Oaklawn reopens, its employees and guests must follow certain steps to help continue the fight against spreading the virus. For starters, under the governor’s order, casino operations will be limited to one-third capacity.

The casino will use just one entrance for guests, and guests and employees will have their temperatures checked before they can enter. Anyone registering a temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher will not be permitted. Patrons will also need to show their identification in the event contact tracing is necessary.

Both staff and guests also must wear masks at all times, and smoking will not be permitted inside.

Oaklawn General Manager Wayne Smith said in a statement that the resort is coming off a successful spring racing meet, and while the last six weeks of that meet was run without fans, it showed Oaklawn was able to implement successful virus-mitigation protocols.

We are fully prepared to meet or exceed all recommended health and hygiene protocols,” Smith said. “While we understand this timing might not be right for some people, just know we will be ready and safe for you when you are. The health and safety of our guests and team members are of the utmost importance.”

The casino will operate from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. CT every Sunday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 5 a.m. on weekends. Oaklawn will “electrostatically” disinfect the casino nightly during its dark hours.

Roulette, Sportsbook to Remain Closed

With the reduced capacity to start the reopening process, Oaklawn will also make several changes to its gaming floor.

The casino will restrict patrons to playing every other slot or video gaming machine in a row to foster compliance with social distancing guidelines. Only three players will be allowed at each live blackjack table, and craps tables will be limited to six players, three on each side.

Not all games will be open during the initial phase. Oaklawn will keep its roulette tables closed for the time being, and the casino’s sportsbook and simulcasting center will stay closed. While mobile betting on horse racing is allowed in the state, mobile sports betting is not. Live entertainment, such as bands, will also not be permitted, and the casino will not hold any marketing promotions during the restricted phase.

Oaklawn Dining Options to Also Reopen Under Restrictions

Other steps Oaklawn has taken or will take to control the spread of the coronavirus include limiting the number of riders on its courtesy shuttle, and providing training to staff on how to control the spread of the virus.

Additional hand sanitizer stations will be placed throughout the casino floor and work areas. In addition to the daily electrostatic cleanings, casino officials said all areas of the resort have undergone a series of deep cleanings since it was closed to the public two months ago.

Similar to the casino, Oaklawn’s dining amenities will also operate under restrictions for the time being. Menus will be disposable, and all condiments will be served as single packets. There will be added space between tables and no party larger than 10 will be allowed to sit together.

Masks will also be required for everyone in the dining areas.