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Southland opens new casino floor space

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By JOHN RECH

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The state’s biggest tourism attraction got even bigger with a ribbon cutting grand opening to expanded casino floor space at Southland last Tuesday morning. Governor Asa Hutchinson joined leaders from the Southland Casino Hotel parent company Delaware North to inaugurate the 113,000 square foot casino floor.

The $320 million expansion of the casino and the hotel addition began in 2019 but took a yearlong set back during the pandemic. That all ended when the new space opened softly for electronic and live games in the posh new space on Good Friday. The floor boasted 2,400 gaming machines, 50 live table games, sports betting. Dining choices expanded too, including the Sports Bar & Grill, Ignite Steakhouse, The Fry House and the Grind coffee shop, while new bars included the Chairman’s Bar and Ignite Steakhouse. The official ribbon cutting last week marked the latest milestones at Southland.

Speakers launched the new space using the metaphor of the yet to open 20-story hotel tower. As the highrise transformed the skyline in West Memphis, so the impact of the casino would raise local economic impact according to the speakers. The casino and hotel were expected to produce 1,200 jobs. Southland estimated its total economic impact at $311 Million annually via employment, operational spending, charitable giving and taxes paid to the state, Crittenden County and The City of West Memphis.

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Delaware North Chairman Jeremy Jacobs and Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson shared the ceremonial scissors and great delight as they cut the ribbon on the 113,000 square foot expanded casino floor at Southland Casino Hotel last Tuesday. Pictured left to right were West Memphis Mayor Marco McClendon, State Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, Jeremy Jacobs, Asa Hutchinson, Delaware North CEO Lou Jacobs, State Senator Keith Ingram and Southland President and General Manager David Wolf.

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Delaware North CEO Lou Jacobs opened the ceremony noting the draw of the new casino and hotel complex rose from a reginal attraction into a global travel and entertainment destination.

“The newly expanded Southland Casino Hotel represents a transformation, new age in gaming and entertainment,” said Jacobs. “Today’s event is a testament to our commitment to long-term, mutually beneficial partnership between Southland and the community and leaders in West Memphis, Memphis and Arkansas. We’re confident that this will establish Southland as a destination for not only the Mid-South region, but for gaming enthusiasts for across the country and around the world. I’m grateful to our Delaware North leaders and team members for their years of planning and effort to steward this incredible new venue.”

Governor Asa Hutchinson touted the expansion as a highpoint in economic development in the delta and expressed high hopes for more to come. Southland produced a demonstrated history of award-winning community service and a history of donating millions of dollars in charitable giving. He acknowledged the Jacobs family leadership and touted the positive tourism industry relationships across the mid-south. He said the company proved itself as a pivotal fixture producing the single highest tourism tax revenue for the state.

“This is an exciting day not only for West Memphis, but all of Arkansas,” said Hutchinson. “Today’s announcement by Southland Casino Hotel and Delaware North continues the extraordinary success story of this company. Southland has brought more tourism, revenue, and jobs to Crittenden County and the state of Arkansas since 1956, and I wish then well as they continue to grow. You’ve created many jobs with more to come. You’ve changed the landscape and that’s what’s exciting.

When it comes to manufacturing there is not any company looking for a major expansion in Arkansas or the mid-south that does not consider West Memphis and Crittenden County. The opportunities are enormous here and I’ve never been more excited about eastern Arkansas, jobs, healthcare, tourismall come together here in West Memphis.”

Set to finish soon were a new covered parking garage with 1,400 spaces and the high-rise hotel still receiving finishing touches. More than one million items were set to move into the blue-green glassed tower. The hotel was planned for 300 rooms including 72 corner suites and 12 top floor penthouse suites.

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