In January, for the second month in a row, the sportsbooks at Arkansas’ three casinos each took in more than $1 million in bets. The casinos also had a winning month from “terminal” devices such as slot machines.
Southland Casino Racing in West Memphis again had the largest sports wagering handle of the state’s casinos in January, according to the Arkansas Racing Commission. The “handle” refers to the amount of money wagered.
Southland is a casino and dog track across the Mississippi River from the larger Memphis, Tenn., metropolitan area.
Southland collected more than $3.7 million in sports bets in January, or about $400,000 more than the previous month. After paying the bettors whose wagers won, the casino’s net win was $713, 670. This is about $23,000 more than in December.
Also in January, Southland’s net win at terminal devices topped $19.9 million, or $3.2 million more than in December.
Even with a large sportsbook handle in January, Southland collected fewer bets last month than in October. During October, Southland’s sportsbook handle topped $4 million.
This decline could be because of Southland’s proximity to Tennessee. In November, Tennessee began to allow mobile sports betting within its borders. Some people who might have wagered on athletic events at Southland could be using their smartphones to place bets on the Tennessee side of the river instead.
Mobile sports betting is not permitted in Arkansas.
Oaklawn Racing Underway
The sportsbook at Oaklawn Casino Resort collected more than $2.1 million in wagers in January, about $140,000 more than in December. After winners were paid, the sportsbook made about $157,000 more than the previous month.
The casino also netted more than $8.7 million from terminal devices in January, or $1.5 million more than in December.
Oaklawn is in Hot Springs, about an hour southwest of Little Rock, the capital city. For decades until the 1960s, casinos operated illegally but openly in Hot Springs. The nation’s most notorious mobsters vacationed there, including Al Capone, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, and Frank Costello.
Now the only legal casino in the area is at Oaklawn, also home to a horse track with a prominent racing history. The annual Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn is viewed as an important prelude to the Triple Crown races.
This year’s 57-day racing season is underway now at Oaklawn and ends May 1. A limited number of fans are allowed to attend live races.
Winning Hand in Pine Bluff
In Pine Bluff, Saracen Casino Resort took in more than $1.3 million in sports bets in January. This figure is about $300,000 more than the previous month. After payouts, Saracen collected about $50,000 more from sports betting in January than in December. December and January were the first two months Saracen topped $1 million in sports wagers.
With a net win of more than $8.7 million from terminal devices, Saracen netted about $1.5 million more from the machines in January than in the previous month. Saracen also brought in $73,483 in poker revenue, according to the Arkansas Racing Commission.
Pine Bluff is about 45 minutes south of Little Rock.
In Arkansas, casinos pay 13 percent tax on gaming revenue under $150,000. Above that, the tax is 20 percent.
A fourth casino has been authorized for Russellville, but is tied up in a legal dispute.
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