Arkansas issues first two casino licenses
Two Racinos in the state will see casino games starting April 1
Arkansas is only days away from seeing its first fully-functioning, and legal, casinos. The Arkansas Racing Commission approved full casino licenses for two racinos last week, and both are expected to open their doors to the new gaming options beginning April 1.
Oaklawn Racing and Gaming in Hot Springs and Southland Park Gaming and Racing in West Memphis are going to be the first two casinos in Arkansas. The launch comes following a successful vote by Arkansas residents on last November’s ballot on Issue 4, a constitutional amendment that allows casino licenses for up to four operators.
Arkansas has only permitted gambling on horse races at Oaklawn and dog races at Southland, as well as slot machines, until now. After the beginning of next month, the state will also see Mississippi stud, blackjack, craps, roulette and three-card poker. Sportsbooks at the venues could come next, since it was also approved through Issue 4, but Arkansas is still working on the regulatory framework.
Officials from both of the racinos to have received licenses assert that they expect to be able to complete the transition to a fully-fledged casino by this summer. They hope to have everything in place to offer poker and, if the regulatory issues are settled, their sportsbooks by then, as well.
Issue 4 allowed for two licenses to be given to existing entities, with the other two allocated to new casinos. According to Scott Hardin of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, applications for the new casinos will start to be accepted in May, with one venue planned for Pope County and the other for Jefferson County.