HOT SPRINGS, Ark.– The Arkansas State Racing Commission approved Oaklawn and Southland’s request to begin Casino Gaming on April 1, 2019. 

The approval happened during the Saturday meeting in Hot Springs. 
The commission also set May as the time they’ll accept casino license applications that could impact Pope and Jefferson counties. We learned Oaklawn and Southland are exempt from applying to those casino licenses. 

We met a Hot Spring’s resident who was ready to roll into Oaklawn Saturday afternoon. 

JB Banning said, “I love Hot Springs. It’s a beautiful town to live in . I’m riding my Harley.”

We met him after the state’s racing commission gave the go for Oaklawn and Southland, that is located in West Memphis, to start casino gaming April 1, 2019.

“That’s incredible. It’s about time that they finally allow live gaming back in Arkansas,” Banning said. 

He was not the only Arkansan outside Oaklawn with that reaction. 

We are at the Arkansas State Racing Commission meeting in Hot Springs. Big points on today’s agenda. Follow thread for meeting updates ⤵️#ARNews— Price McKeon (@PriceMcKeon) March 23, 2019

Henry Zachery said, “I think it’s real great. Great! (It) Saves me from going to Louisiana and Texas. Brings it home.”

“I think that’s awesome,” Brenda Roland said. 

We got video from Southland that showed its already set up dozens of tables for live gaming to begin next month. 

“Full steam ahead for lack of a better term,” Southland’s President David Wolf told us after the approval Saturday. 

He said just like Oaklawn live gaming will begin in less than 10 days. 

“We’re going to have craps, roulette, blackjack … Mississippi stud, three card poker,” Wolf said.

Both places told the commission some existing gaming such as sports wagering will take a couple of  months to transition and fall under the casino amendment that Arkansans approved last fall. 

Zachery said, “I go to Louisiana a lot. I’d rather come home, you know. I’m in Arkansas.”

The meeting also set May 1- May31, 2019 as the time the commission will accept casino license applications. That could impact Pope and Jefferson counties. 

Banning said, “You know, I think we’re going to blossom again.”

He’s counting down the days for change to come in his city and state.

April 1, 2019 is less than 10 days away. 

Officials with both places say by summer they’ll fully finish the transitions to casino gaming.