After in November 2018, Arkansas voters approved a constitutional amendment to allow the state to issue licenses for four full-fledged casinos, on Monday, Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort became the very first casino in the southern U.S. state to offer legal sports betting.

The Hot Springs casino resort’s remodeled Race & Sports Book, located at the north end of the casino, is now taking bets on a range of sports including professional football (NFL), college sports (NCAA) Olympics and World Cup events. The bets include in-game wagering, parlays, a variety of proposition bets and future wagering.

Upping the ante:

KATV News further reports that Wayne Smith, general manager for Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort, said in a statement…

“It’s a new level of entertainment for our guests.”

According to the news agency, the first sports wager in “The Natural State” was placed on Monday at the Hot Springs venue by Smith (pictured, right), who bet $5 that the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys would prevail over the New York Giants in the league’s season opener on Sunday, September 8 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Amendment 100 passes:

In November, voters in the southern state bordering the Mississippi River approved – by a 54-46 margin- Amendment 100, an amendment to Arkansas’ constitution authorizing full-fledged casino gambling – adding table games such as blackjackcraps and roulette to its existing portfolio of electronic skill games – at the former Oaklawn Racing and Gaming and at Southland Casino Racing, formally Southland Park Gaming and Racing.

The constitutional amendment also authorized the development of two new casinos in Jefferson and Pope Counties, provided local officials approve, along with the legalization and regulation of in-person sports betting at all four of the “new” casinos.

State regulator approvals:

The Arkansas Racing Commission, on June 14, gave the green light to Oaklawn to begin sports betting operations from July 1, 2019, after on March 23 approving the full casino licenses for the two existing tracks, which under a 2005 state law, offers “games of skill.”

Quick, fast & in a hurry:

Wasting no time, on the heels of the November vote, Oaklawn Jockey Club, the owner/operator of the Hot Springs casino announced its plan to invest approximately $100 million for the addition of a 200-key hotel and a 14,000 sq ft events center to the horseracing and gaming venue. The Cella family-founded business explained that the project would also involve a 28,000 sq ft expansion of the 115-year-old facility’s gaming floor alongside the premiere of an adjacent food court and restaurant.

Work on the expansion was well underway in May and is expected to be ready for business prior to the 2020 live racing season.

New Race & Sports Book:

Tellers are available to take wagers daily from 10am to 10pm in the newly-remodeled Race & Sports Book, while kiosks are also available 7 days a week with service available from open to close. There are six kiosks situated inside the remodeled Race & Sports Book, four of which are located just outside of Silks Bar and Grill. the latter has added TVs for sports viewing, with one in the High Limits area and the other located near the entrance, according to Oaklawn’s website.

SBTech rumors:

European betting technology firm SBTech is powering Oaklawn’s sports betting operation. The leading provider of interactive sports betting solutions and services, which has been considering expanding across the U.S. sports gaming space, might be about to change hands.

Breaking the story, Legal Sports Report, reports that DraftKings could be close to acquiring the Isle of Man-headquartered sportsbook, which would give the American daily fantasy sports content provider a huge plus as sports and online gambling maintain their growth spurt across the U.S.

Southland expansion:

Meanwhile, on Monday, April 1, 2019, Southland Gaming & Racing became Southland Casino Racing and the Delaware North-owned racino in West Memphis announced that it would begin offering live table games.

Earlier reports indicated that Southland expected to break ground in May or June this year on a $250 million expansion, and according to casino staff, workers have cleared the land but the actual construction has yet to begin. The project will reportedly see a 20-story, 300-room hotel tower with four restaurants added alongside 500 more slot machines and 20 table games.