May 24, 2021 3 min read


Arkansas Casinos Continue Upward Climb Even as Sports Gambling Stumbles

Arkansas casinos are showing the same trends as those in other states. As the US begins to step out of the year-long chaos of COVID-19, gaming properties have begun to rebound and are reporting consistently improved numbers. Arkansas casinos are included, as well, as the state’s gambling facilities performed better in April than they did in March. Sports gambling revenue, however, stumbled slightly as there were no big-ticket sports events on the calendar. 

Arkansas Casinos Improve Win Totals

Arkansas has three licensed casinos, although it’s trying to add more, and those three saw a $2.4-million month-over-month improvement from March to April. The Arkansas Racing Commission (ARC), which oversees casino gambling in the state, released the figures last week, which are showing a definite pattern of positive gains. March revenue was close to double that of February and April was significantly better than that of March.

Southland was the big winner in March, but the Saracen Casino Resort took over last month. Its total win improved by $1.9 million, but sports gambling revenue dropped to just under $1 million. In March, with March Madness being held for the first time in two years, the month saw $1.45 million in bets, while April only saw around $964,000.

Oaklawn saw its month-over-month win increase by $660,807, but its sportsbook handle fell from $1.6 million to $901,475 from March to April. Southland dropped in both casino and sports gambling. The total win for casino operations was down by $178,101 compared to April and the property’s sports gambling handle was $2.20 million, down from March’s $2.88 million. Despite that dip, Southland’s sports gambling win improved by $88,324.

Changes Coming To Arkansas Gambling

Arkansas is getting a casino makeover that is going to take a while to complete. Oaklawn led the way when it spent $100 million to upgrade its facilities, adding 198 hotel rooms and updated gaming options. Southland is raising the ante, building a 21-story hotel, and renovating its gaming floor. Those upgrades are expected to be completed sometime next year. The Saracen just opened its doors last October, so it’s not yet ready for an upgrade.

The state’s casino market was expected to be a little bigger by now, but planned expansion into Pope County has been anything but smooth. The controversy started even before a casino was authorized for the county and the area has been mired in conflict over the subject ever since. Disputes are still occurring, with public officials, gaming representatives, and area residents continuing to argue about how Pope County gaming should be organized and by whom.


Erik brings his unique writing talents and storytelling flare to cover a wide range of gambling topics. He has written for a number of industry-related publications over the years, providing insight into the constantly evolving world of gaming. A huge sports fan, he especially enjoys football and anything related to sports gambling. Erik is particularly interested in seeing how sports gambling and online gaming are transforming the larger gaming ecosystem.

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