Gaming Wins Down at Arkansas Casinos Overall  


Saracen Casino Resort is the only casino in Arkansas that had better results at its sportsbook in May than the previous month. Overall, the casinos made a profit in May, but less than in April.

Southland Casino RacingSouthland Casino Racing
An employee at the Southland Casino Racing sportsbook, right, hands over a betting ticket at the ticket window. Southland’s sportsbook was less active in May than in April. (Image: Memphis Flyer)

In May, the sportsbook handle at Saracen jumped to more than $1 million, up from a $964.218 handle in April, according to figures released Thursday by the Arkansas Racing Commission. The “handle” refers to the amount of money bettors put down on sporting events. After the winning bettors were paid, Saracen won $57,531 more in May than the previous month.

Saracen is one of three commercial casinos in Arkansas. The others are Oaklawn Casino Racing Resort in Hot Springs and Southland Casino Racing in West Memphis. A fourth casino has been licensed for Russellville, but is tied up in a legal dispute.

Oaklawn and Southland saw a month-to-month decrease in the sportbook handle and net wins this spring. At Oaklawn, bettors wagered $873,841 in May, down from $901,475 in April. The casino won $97,179 in May, less than the $172, 062 collected in April.

At Southland, the $1.8 million sportsbook handle in May was down from $2.2 million in April. Southland won almost $236,000 more in April than in May.

West Memphis, where the Southland casino and dog track are located, is across the Mississippi River from the larger Memphis, Tenn., metropolitan area. Problems with a major bridge just east of Southland this spring has led to a general slowdown in commerce throughout the region.  

In May, the Interstate 40 bridge linking Arkansas and Tennessee at Memphis was closed after inspectors discovered a fracture in the six-lane structure. Repairs are expected to last through July, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Sportsbooks nationwide are expected to see more action when the NFL season kicks off in the fall. NFL games generally are the most heavily bet sporting events in the country, Las Vegas oddsmakers have told  

Tax Collections Down

Saracen was the only casino in Arkansas with a larger net win on table games in May than in April. Its win went from $1.75 million in April to $1.86 million in May. 

On “terminals” such as slot machines, all three casinos won less money in May than in April.

The overall net win from the three casinos combined was $11.39 million less in May than in April. This includes wins from sportbooks, terminals, and table games. 

The state’s casino tax collection in May was more than $7.8 million. One month earlier, the state collected $9.9 million in taxes from the three casinos combined.

Smartphone Betting Prohibited

In Arkansas, bettors wanting to put money on live sporting events can only wager in-person at a casino sportsbook or kiosk. 

Mobile betting on smartphones can take place at Arkansas casinos, but only if the bettor is on casino property, state gaming regulators told However, no casino in Arkansas offers that smartphone service.

South of Arkansas, the Louisiana Legislature has approved bills allowing for mobile sports betting. The legislative session ended June 10. 

By Thursday, Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) had not signed the final bill to permit sports betting in the 55 of 64 parishes that approved it during last November’s election.

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