Oaklawn Racing and Gaming is gearing up for one of the largest entertainment and hospitality investments in Arkansas’ history.
The Hot Springs horse track and gaming center has announced a $100 million expansion project that includes a high-rise hotel, a multi-purpose events center, an expanded gaming area and additional parking.
Rising seven stories, the hotel will contain 200 rooms, along with two presidential suites, an outdoor swimming pool, luxury spa and a restaurant. There will also be a 14,000 square foot multi-purpose events center adjacent to the hotel, which can accommodate 1,500 for meetings, concerts and other events
Over 28,000 square feet of gaming space will be added to Oaklawn’s existing facilities. This will allow Oaklawn to expand their gaming offerings. In addition, there will be expanded parking options.
According to Louis Cella, president of the Oaklawn Jockey Club, the hotel will provide racing patrons with prime views of the horse track. In a press release, he says, ““The hotel will offer a unique vantage point for our patrons in that it will overlook the track. Imagine the spectacular view as the horses are heading down the stretch. Our goal is to achieve 4-star status.”
Although the announcement comes in the wake of voters approving a ballot measure that allows casino gaming in Arkansas, the expansion has been planned for some time. According to Cella, the new expansion has been in the works since 2014.
“While one may assume that today’s announcement comes in response to the passage of Issue 4 on November 6, we actually began planning for this during our last expansion in 2014,” says Cella. “Our goal then, as it is now, is to use a quality gaming experience to enhance racing and help attract even more great champions to Arkansas such as Smarty Jones, Zenyatta, and American Pharoah.
Work on the project is scheduled to begin in May 2019 after the completion of the 2019 racing season. The gaming expansion is planned to be completed by January 2020, while the hotel and event center are set to be completed in late 2020.
Cella expressed excitement at the prospect of expanding Oaklawn’s entertainment offerings. “This historic announcement represents a new chapter in the rich 114-year history of Oaklawn. As we enhance the entertainment experience for our customers, we will also further elevate thoroughbred racing and help make Arkansas and Hot Springs even stronger regional tourism destinations,” he says.