Coronavirus consequences for Arkansas casinos

The three casinos in the southern American state of Arkansas together reportedly lost more than $1.4 billion in gross gaming revenues as a direct result of their enforced nine-week closures at the hands of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a Tuesday report from local television broadcaster KATV, the state’s Southland Park Gaming and Racing, Oaklawn Racing and Gaming and Saracen Resort Casino facilities were temporarily closed from the middle of March as the number of local infections hit double digits. The source explained that the trio was only allowed to revive operations from May 18 following the passage of new health protocols that reduced their overall capacities and required the implementation of a range of social distancing protections.

Considerable costs:

The broadcaster cited official figures from the Arkansas Finance and Administration Department in reporting that West Memphis’ Southland Park Gaming and Racing saw its gross gaming revenues drop by a comparable $700 million between March and July while Oaklawn Racing and Gaming had suffered an even steeper $743 million decline. It moreover detailed that Saracen Resort Casino, which only opened in October out of a temporary annex, had recorded analogous receipts of $312 million for its first five months before seeing this tally plummet by 42% to just $128 million for March to July.

Recent revival:

However, KATV reported that the three venues have since begun to show signs of recovery with their gross gaming revenues sine re-opening continually racking up month-on-month increases. The broadcaster explained that Oaklawn Racing and Gaming recorded July figures that were around 20% lower year-on-year at roughly $120 million while Southland Park Gaming and Racing’s tally was only about 10% down at approximately $242 million.

Fresh focus:

For the 300-slot Saracen Resort Casino in rural Jefferson County and KATV reported that gross gaming revenues hit $14 million in May and rose to $35 million for June before exceeding $42 million in July. The Pine Bluff property purportedly described its post-lockdown turnout as ‘exceptional’ before detailing that it now anticipates holding an inauguration ceremony for its more permanent home sometime next month.

Optimistic outlook:

Scott Hardin from the Arkansas Finance and Administration Department reportedly pronounced that the casino trio had contributed some $4.5 million in aggregated July state taxes, which was roughly equivalent to the amount bequeathed last year by just Southland Park Gaming and Racing and Oaklawn Racing and Gaming.

Hardin reportedly told KATV…

We really have been impressed with the steps that all of the casinos have been taking. Obviously, the revenue is not what it would normally be but that’s to be expected. I think within the next two to three months, we could see the normal levels of revenue we saw this time last year.”

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