The sportsbooks at Arkansas’ three legal casinos continued to see a big increase in the amount of money wagered on sporting events.
Southland Casino Racing in West Memphis collected more than $4 million in sports bets from Sept. 20 to Oct. 20, according to totals released this week by the Arkansas Gaming Commission. This figure exceeds the $2.3 million in wagers at Southland’s sportsbook the previous month.
These new sports betting totals represent a 30-day fall period when football was ramping up at the college level and in the National Football League. Games in the NFL are considered the most widely bet sporting events in the country.
Southland is a casino and greyhound track across the Mississippi River from Memphis, Tennessee.
Casinos are outlawed in Tennessee. However, sports betting became legal on smartphones and other online platforms in early November in the Volunteer State.
The sportsbook totals from Southland in West Memphis, Arkansas, represent the month-long period just before sports betting was legalized in Tennessee.
After paying those with winning bets, the Southland sportsbook had a pre-tax win of $546,627 during the period ending Oct. 20. The previous month’s net win was well below that, at $138,542.
Historic Oaklawn Racetrack
The sportsbook at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort also saw an increase in the amount of money wagered.
During the month-long period ending Oct. 20, Oaklawn collected more than $1.73 million in sports bets. This is an increase of almost $600,000 from the previous 30-day period.
Oaklawn had a net win during the most recent period of $284,757, about $78,000 more than the previous month.
The historic Oaklawn horse track is in Hot Springs, a resort town about an hour southwest of Little Rock, the capital city. Little Rock is in Central Arkansas.
Casinos operated illegally but openly for decades in Hot Springs until authorities shut them down in the 1960s. The racetrack is the only place in the area where legal gambling now is allowed.
The annual Arkansas Derby held at the track is considered an important prelude to the Triple Crown races.
Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff collected $726,311 in bets during the Sept. 20-Oct. 20 period. This is an increase of $238,835 from the pervious 30-day time frame. Saracen had a net win of $100,129, almost double the previous month’s win.
The full Saracen casino opened last month. The casino had been operating out of an annex while the resort was under construction. The annex is a former truck stop. Pine Bluff is 45 minutes south of Little Rock.
Arkansas voters in 2018 approved casino gambling in four cities — West Memphis, Pine Bluff, Hot Springs, and Russellville.
The sites in West Memphis and Hot Springs already offered “electronic games of skill.” The 2018 public vote allowed these tracks to open fully licensed casinos.
The fourth casino in Russellville has been licensed, but is not open pending a legal challenge to its license.
When COVID-19 cases began to spike in March, Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) ordered casinos to close. He allowed them to reopen May 18 at 66 percent capacity.
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