Southland now offers wagering on sports

Ollie Dyson cleans a slot machine at Southland Gaming and Racing in West Memphis in this undated file photo.

Sports betting -- complete with kiosks -- has launched at Southland Casino Racing in West Memphis, joining two other casinos in the state in offering wagering on athletic games, a casino spokeswoman announced Wednesday.

Delaware North, the parent company of Southland Casino Racing, said in a news release that several Betly betting kiosks will be placed at various spots on the casino grounds, and the on-site sportsbook will be located at Southland's Sports Bar & Grill and in the racing mezzanine on the second level.

"We're very pleased to have successfully launched the Betly sportsbook and kiosks for our loyal patrons to enjoy sports wagering, and we also anticipate a new audience will discover Southland because of it," said David Wolf, president and general manager of Southland Casino Racing. "We worked hard to make it happen in time for the football season."

The sportsbook, which features agent/teller services and betting voucher redemption, has limited hours. Teller windows will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays; from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays; and from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays.

The sportsbook betting agent and teller services, as well as voucher redemption, are available on the second-level racing mezzanine from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

The on-property kiosks can be accessed during the casino's operating hours of 9 a.m. to 5 a.m. daily.

Casino patrons can place wagers on various sports, including auto racing, football, basketball, boxing, golf, mixed martial arts and soccer.

Amendment 100 to the Arkansas Constitution, approved by voters in November 2018, authorized what is now called Southland Casino Racing in West Memphis and Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs to expand into full-fledged casinos. The amendment also allows the Racing Commission to license a casino apiece in Jefferson and Pope counties. The constitutional amendment also authorized sports betting at the casinos.

Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort began accepting sports betting on July 1, 2019. By the end of July, Oaklawn's sportsbook totaled $416,159, according to a state Racing Commission report.

Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff began sports betting at the Saracen Casino Annex on Oct. 1. By the end of the first month, Saracen's handle for sportsbook totaled $284,202 and increased to $597,828 in November, according to the Racing Commission report.

A gambling license for Pope County was issued to Gulfside Casino Partnership earlier this year, but construction has not yet started on a casino.

Southland and Oaklawn are in the midst of multimillion-dollar improvements that include new casino complexes, expanded gambling spaces and multistory hotels.

The Betly sportsbook and kiosks are powered by International Gaming Technology, with which Southland's parent company, Delaware North, signed a multistate sports betting agreement in January.

"Sports wagering adds to the exciting mix of entertainment and hospitality we offer guests at Southland and is another reason for people throughout the state and region to visit," Wolf said.

The casinos in the state were temporarily shut down in the spring when the covid-19 pandemic hit. The gambling facilities reopened in May after agreeing to operate at a third of their capacity and having a detailed safety plan approved by the state Department of Health on how they will limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Southland agreed at the time to check the temperatures of all customers, require customers and employees to wear masks, and prohibit smoking. Southland said at the time that it would reduce the number of its slot machines and not offer table games, live racing or sports betting.

Wolf said in the news release that the sportsbook will operate under Delaware North's "Play it Safe" health and safety program for guests and employees.

The program includes removing chairs from the gambling floor to leave numerous slot machines empty to create a six-foot space between people; numerous hand-sanitizer pumps on the floor; and cleaning crews on the gambling floor, ready to sterilize the slot machines in between players.