Delaware North, the parent company of the dog-racing venue Southland Gaming & Racing, revealed that it plans a major expansion of its operations. The project was announced by the company’s executives, state Senator Keith Ingram and Governor Asa Hutchinson.
The operator announced that it would seek to build a 300-room hotel and massive gaming complex at Southland’s greyhound track, with the expansion plan estimated to $250 million. As explained by Governor Hutchinson, the project, which is privately funded, will be one of the biggest investments ever made in a tourism project in the state of Arkansas. This is also the largest investment made by Delaware North in Southland since the purchase of the dog race track in the middle of the 1970s.
The construction of the casino complex is set to be given a start in the summer. According to estimates, it would take about a year for the casino complex and parking garage to be built, while the construction of the hotel would most likely take about 18 months. The owners reassured that the construction works should not interrupt in any way the existing racing and gaming operations.
The hotel and casino complex is expected to create over 1,500 jobs at the time of the construction, as well as 400 permanent jobs when the construction works are finished. This would boost the overall number of people employed by the company at Southland to approximately 1,200. The hotel is set to be built on vacant land situated west of the already existing complex owned by Delaware North.
Southland Expansion Would Be Great Contributor to the State
In November 2018, Arkansas voters gave the green light to a ballot initiative under which casino gambling was permitted in West Memphis and three other locations across the state. This move paved the way for the multi-million expansion, which on the other hand, comes as the latest in a series of investments made by Delaware North.
Since electronic gambling was permitted by the state of Arkansas more than ten years ago, Delaware North has spent over $100 million into Southland. The Southland location of the operator has continued to gain popularity in the region, especially at the time of the shutdown of Tunica casinos for about a month during the 2011 Mississippi River flooding.
The newly-announced expansion is expected to have a positive impact on the local community. As mentioned above, an overall of 1,900 jobs is set to be created by the project at the time of the construction and operations start combined. Apart from that, Southland will also be engaged in contributions to charities and good causes, tax payments to the state, as well as operational spending, with the total economic impact of the project estimated to about $144 million on an annual basis.
In 2018, the existing Southland operations made an overall contribution of $45.9 million. The largest part of that impact, $41.3 million, went to state coffers, while the city of Memphis got a little over $3.4 million. The county received a contribution of more than $1.1 million.