Arkansas casinos are beginning to feel the impact of coronavirus, as all of the casinos effectively shut down to contain the spread of the virus.
Operations at the Saracen Casino Annex in Pine Bluff are ceasing today (March 17) and are expected to remain closed through March.
In a letter dated March 17, Quapaw Nation Chairman John L. Berrey wrote that the annex was closing due to public health concerns brought on by coronavirus. However, construction on the resort is expected to continue.
“After discussions with Governor Hutchinson, we will follow his public health guidance and order to temporarily suspend operation of the Saracen Annex venue in Pine Bluff, Ark., effective noon today and extending through the end of March,” he wrote. “We will continue our dialogue with both state and federal health officials regarding best practices as identified by the CDC; we share everyone’s concerns about the coronavirus (COVID-19).”
The Saracen Casino Resort, developed by the Quapaw Nation and the Downstream Development Authority, is slate to be have a 80,000-square foot gaming floor, 2,000+ slot machines and 31 gaming tables, as well as a 300-room hotel with conference and banquet centers.
Southland Casino Racing in West Memphis also announced that it would be closing, effective Tuesday. The West Memphis casino will be closed “until further notice” with all activities, including casino promotions, canceled.
“To date, we have worked to protect public health by following CDC guidelines on sanitizing protocols and cleaning throughout our venue. We will remain in close touch with State and County health officials, and we look forward to reopening Southland Casino Racing shortly and continuing to provide a clean, safe environment,” Southland General Manage David Wolf said in a statement.
Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs announced its intention to close for two weeks, starting Monday, March 16. However, racing will continue during this time. Oaklawn President Louis Cella said patrons could continue to watch racing and bet online with Oaklawn Anywhere.
“As for racing, it has always been the life blood of Oaklawn and we are happy to offer the horsemen an avenue for racing their horses in these challenging times. While no fans are permitted to experience racing during this time, fans will be limited to watch and wager on Oaklawn Anywhere. We continue to monitor everything on a day to day basis. We appreciate the patience of our guests, team members and horsemen.”
Casinos throughout the Mid-South have closed in response to coronavirus. All of the casinos in Mississippi have announced their temporary closures. This will impact six casinos, located in Tunica and Robisonville.