Posted on: March 6, 2023, 08:24h.
Last updated on: March 6, 2023, 12:33h.
Arkansas casino revenue last year topped $614 million, an all-time record for the state’s recently liberalized commercial gaming industry.
Gross gaming revenue (GGR), per the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, was north of $614.1 million. The money includes gaming wins from slot machines, table games, and sports betting, both in-person and online. The $614.1 million represents a 9% gain from 2021.
Arkansans decided to significantly expand gaming in the Razorback State through a 2018 ballot referendum. The amendment to the state constitution allowed the state’s two racetracks — Southland and Oaklawn — to become full-scale Las Vegas-style casinos with slot machines, live dealer table games, and sports betting.
The November 2018 referendum additionally allowed for the construction of two entirely new casinos in Pope and Jefferson counties. Only one of the from-the-ground-up casinos — Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff — has since opened.
Southland Casino Hotel in West Memphis, a former greyhound track where dog racing ended in 2021, led the way in 2022 GGR. The casino, owned and operated by New York-based hospitality and gaming giant Delaware North, won approximately $264 million from gamblers — an 11% year-over-year gain.
The new casino floor has performed well,” Osi Imomoh, Delaware North’s president and general manager, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “To continue to build visitation, Southland has enhanced its marketing efforts with a more consistent calendar of promotions and events.”
Imomoh added that the resort is focusing its marketing efforts on demographics within a 300-mile radius of the property.
Southland’s 113,000-square-foot casino floor boasts 2,400 slot machines, 50 table games, and a Betly Sportsbook. Southland’s 20-story hotel offers 300 guestrooms.
Saracen was next in terms of GGR with gaming win of $162 million, up nearly 5% from the prior year. Owned and operated by the Quapaw Nation of Oklahoma, the tribal-owned commercial casino spans 80,000 square feet and is equipped with 1,800 slot machines, 30 table games, a dedicated poker room, and a BetSaracen Sportsbook.
Saracen officials said the casino’s operating environment during its first two years hasn’t exactly been a typical climate because of the pandemic’s lingering effects.
“We don’t really know what a normal year looks like,” said Saracen executive Carlton Saffa.
Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort placed third in the state casino industry in 2022 with GGR of $146.2 million — up almost 9% from 2021. Oaklawn, which served as the launching pad for American Pharoah, who went on to win the American Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup in 2015, remains an active thoroughbred racetrack in Hot Springs.
Oaklawn has 1,500 slots, 30 tables, and an Oaklawn Sportsbook. The casino’s on-site hotel offers 200 rooms.
Arkansas National Ranking
Arkansas levies a graduated tax on gross casino revenue. The first $150 million in GGR that a casino generates is subjected to a 13% tax. Once gross income exceeds $150 million, the tax is elevated to 20%. GGR represents gaming income before taxes and expenses, plus revenue sharing with the casino’s slot manufacturer and/or distributor.
The American Gaming Association recently reported that GGR nationwide eclipsed $60.4 billion last year. The record performance was led by Nevada, with Silver State casinos accounting for more than $14.8 billion.
Arkansas ranked 19th among the 34 states that offered commercial casino gambling in 2022.