It wasn’t even a photo finish.
Casino-style gambling at Arkansas’ two racetracks crossed the finish line in December setting a new annual record for electronic games of skill (EGS) wagers.
According to the latest statistics released by the Arkansas Racing Commission, casinos in Hot Springs-based Oaklawn and West Memphis-based Southland have totaled $2.718 billion in EGS wagers from January through December. The 12-month total is roughly 38% higher from the previous year.
One year ago, the two tracks had a combined $1.967 billion for the full 12 month cycle.
EGS wagers include gambling spent on video blackjack, poker, slot machines and other casino-style games.
In a month-to-month comparison, Southland saw its EGS wagers climb 26% higher from the previous December to $158.7 million. December marked the third highest monthly total for EGS wagers in the track’s history.
Year-to-date, Southland’s EGS wagers topped $1.783 billion.
In December at Oaklawn, EGS wagers were 27% higher from a year ago at $74.16 million. Year-to-date, EGS wagers at Oaklawn eclipsed $934.9 million. FYI, Oaklawn’s racing season opens Friday and the profits from EGS wagers will boost purses for the horse races, which is expected to lead to more high-profile racehorses, trainers and jockeys coming to the park.
The numbers may have climbed even higher if harsh winter weather had not struck the state during the last week of December. Portions of central Arkansas virtually closed down between Christmas and New Year’s after a strong ice and snow storm system buried parts of the state and affected electricity for nearly 200,000 Arkansans.