Oaklawn Park has improved its expanded electronic gaming floor, giving players a casino-like atmosphere where they can enjoy casino table games like blackjack and gaming machines that resemble slot machines.
The racing track will begin its live thoroughbred racing season next week and the new gaming area marks an important step for the 106-year-old facility, which remains Arkansas' biggest single tourist attraction.
The expanded gaming parlor will hold a soft opening to work out errors before players arrive to wager on the horse races beginning on January 15th, 2010.
The 850-station electronic gaming room caps the racing track's long-awaited answer to casino facilities in neighboring states, which first opened twenty years ago in Tunica, Mississippi and affected Oaklawn's revenue. The expansion also comes just after Arkansas launched the state lottery.
Oaklawn spokesman Terry Wallace said that they are not the only choice for gaming entertainment in town anymore. Wallace said that Arkansas is in the lottery business and they are not the only people who offer the chance to gamble. Oaklawn's electronic blackjack tables offer a minimum wager of $25. Some blackjack tables feature blackjack video dealers on a wide screen and they are programmed to make eye contact with each player.
Other casino tables have a live dealer with a bank of chips, collecting losses and giving out winnings to players. The "cards in blackjack are all electronic.
Oaklawn has also added a buffet area, a separate poker area and racebook for high-dollar horse gamers. All the games in Oaklawn including blackjack are technically considered "electronic games of skill," a designation that permitted Oaklawn and Southland Gaming and Racing in West Memphis to get around a ban on casinos in the constitution of Arkansas.
Oaklawn and Southland, who are once only a greyhound racing track, lost a 1996 statewide voter referendum that would have allowed them to open casinos But each won local votes that allowed "electronic games of skill" thanks to a proposal that passed the legislature a year before.
Southland immediately expanded its gaming immediately. Oakland waited for a challenge before the Supreme Court of Arkansas to play out. Once the challenge was dismissed, Oaklawn had to start constructing around its racing season. Oaklawn's gaming facility is open longer each day than its simulcast racing hours. Gamers can begin at 10:00 a.m. and play until 2:00 a.m.
Oaklawn's gambling parlor is open longer each day than its simulcast racing hours. Gamblers can start at 10 a.m. and play until 2 a.m. on weekdays. On Friday and Saturday nights, the parlor is open until 4 a.m.
Thursday, February 25 , 2010