Arkansas Southland Casino Hotel Finishes $320M Expansion Project

Written By J.R. Duren on December 19, 2022
Casino expansion now finished at Arkansas casino Southland

Southland Casino Hotel‘s three-year, $320 million expansion project is finished, and it was worth the wait. The overhauled West Memphis property includes thousands of slot machines, a new hotel, and other upgrades that have transformed the location into a premier gambling destination.

Delaware North, the hospitality company that owns the Arkansas casino, believes the property will be a centerpiece of gaming in the area.

“The Southland expansion is the culmination of a legacy project for Delaware North,” Delaware North CEO Lou Jacobs said in a statement. “The completion puts Southland on the map as a true casino destination that will draw patrons from both near and far.”

The property rolled out its expansion in phases, with the hotel’s newly renovated rooms opening in segments over the year.

Makeover transforms Southland into Vegas-style property

Southland has the look and feel of a new casino now that renovations are complete. Over the past three years, Delaware North made the following upgrades to its casino:

  • Went from 2,000 slot machines to 2,400
  • Added 50 table games
  • New food hall and coffee shop
  • New lobby and steakhouse bars

The casino has tripled the number of slots it offers since adding 750 machines in 2006.

Southland’s new 20-story hotel features 300 rooms and has 12 penthouse suites. The suites are all corner rooms, offering expansive views of the area.

Room rates range from $122 to $131 during the week and $152 to $170 on the weekend. The rate for New Year’s Eve is $799 per night.

Southland also features a Betly sportsbook at its property. The book is located in Sports Bar & Grill and has betting windows and kiosks. The casino also offers online sports betting through Betly.

Overall, the project came in at around $70 million over budget, according to past projections from Delaware North.

Arkansas casino has come a long way from its racetrack roots

Southland opened in the ’50s as a greyhound track. It was the only gambling destination in the entire region and arguably the premier greyhound track in the country.

Delaware North bought the property in the ’70s. At its peak, the track generated $200 million in revenue each year, according to Delaware North.

However, that success came to an end in the ’90s when Mississippi approved riverboard gambling. As a result, Tunica, which is about an hour from Southland, exploded with casinos. Southland’s revenue dropped below $40 million and it had to lay off more than half its workforce.

In 2005, Arkansas lawmakers approved adding blackjack, poker, and other skill games to racinos. That opened the revenue floodgates for Delaware North. Since 2005, the company has poured nearly $400 million into renovations and updates.

The casino’s growth has provided a crucial economic boost to the area. When Delaware North announced the expansion project in 2019, West Memphis Sen. Keith Ingram expressed his appreciation and said:

“From the beginning, Southland Gaming has been a strong, faithful community partner and a generous, valued supporter in local business and charity. The last few years have brought major investments and changes to the face of Southland Gaming and now I am looking forward to the exciting new opportunities for our community.

I am very much appreciative to Southland Gaming for their participation in so many facets of our life in Eastern Arkansas.”

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J.R. Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the gambling beats for more than a dozen states for Catena Media since 2015. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun, and he is a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

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