At Southland Gaming & Racing’s Kennel Club, Delaware North chairman Jeremy M. Jacobs and co-CEO Lou Jacobs were joined this afternoon by several Arkansas government officials as the company unveiled plans for a major expansion to the casino. The $250 million project, the biggest ever investment in West Memphis, will include a new 113,000-square-foot casino complex and a high-rise hotel.
At the moment, Southland Gaming & Racing holds 2,000 gaming machines and several live tables games. The project is estimated to increase those numbers to 2,400 machines and 60 tables games. In addition, Southland will build a new dining space with an expanded buffet, larger steakhouse restaurant, new food hall and coffee shop, a player lounge, and bars.
The main component of the additions, however, is the 20-story high-rise. The hotel can accomodate 300 rooms: 216 standard, 72 corner suites, and 12 top-floor penthouses. To accommodate the extra guests, Southland will add a covered parking garage with space for 1,250 cars. Overall, construction on all the new structures is expected to take about 18 months. By then, Delaware North, which is privately financing the project, believes the new additions will be a major boon for the West Memphis community.
“When construction is completed, Southland will become even more of a destination than it is today. Our commitment is to being good neighbors,” said Lou Jacobs, “and we will continue to partner with nonprofit organizations in West Memphis.”
Southland expects the process to create 1,500 construction jobs over the next year. When the structures are completed, 400 permanent jobs will be available at the casino, bringing the total employment at Southland to around 1,200 jobs.
Senator Keith Ingram labeled Southland as an historic part of Arkansas. “Many people from my generation who grew up in West Memphis, we’ve never known the track not to be here. It’s provided so many jobs, a second a paycheck to people who wanted to help their families or put their children through school.”
In 2018, Southland saw over three million guests, and paid out a total of almost $46 million in taxes to the municipality. In addition, it contributed a further $215,000 to charity. Overall, Southland is estimated to have an economic impact of $144 million annually.
While the renovations will be a huge boost to Southland, Delaware North is looking to expand its options in the immediate future. The organization plans to take advantage of the recently passed amendment to legalize official casinos in Arkansas and include 40 live table games, comprising blackjack, craps, and roulette, while sports betting areas are also in the works.