Mississippi Casinos August Revenue Falls Following Hurricane Sally

Article by : Helen Oct 1, 2020

While businesses worldwide have been unable to escape the wrath of the COVID-19 global pandemic, it seems like the states along the Gulf of Mexico, particularly the Arkansas leg of the gaming industry, cannot catch a break.

After resuming operations at the directive of the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH), following the interruptions in operations by COVID-19, Hurricane Laura, and Hurricane Sally, the three prominent casinos in the region (Southland Casino Racing in West Memphis, Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff, and Oaklawn Racing Casino in Hot Springs) have reported a massive $1.4 billion loss in revenue for the month of August.

Terminal wages for Oaklawn between March and July were down $700 million compared to the same period in 2019. Wagers over at Southland fell $743 million over the course of a year. Since Saracen opened in September 2019, the company had a rocky start due to the coronavirus but managed to pull $312 million in terminal wages within the first 5 months of operations. However, wages fell to $128 million between March and July, resulting in a 42% decrease in revenue.

Fortunately, the trio is beginning to turn things around after reopening their doors for business, and it seems revenue is picking up. Oaklawn made 780 gaming terminals accessible to guests and earned $52 million in May. The following month, the reported amount climbed to $104 million, and by July, skyrocketed to $120 million. Considering Oaklawn’s revenue, it is clear that the company managed to score 80% of last year’s earnings with only half the machines.

We are proud to maintain the highest standards of cleanliness and believe we are one of the safest businesses to visit.

Wayne Smith, Oaklawn General Manager

Saracen Casino Resort reported steady growth even amidst construction work on its main building, which is about 80 percent complete. While the grand opening is slated for October this year, the casino is taking steps to recruit over 200 positions for the Food and Beverage department. In May, a temporary facility brought the casino $14 million in wagers placed through the facility’s 300 gaming terminals. The number, increasing to $35 million the following month, hit the $42 million mark by July.

A spokesperson from the Finance and Administration department, Scott Hardin, said the company is taking all the necessary steps to ensure the safety of patrons when the facility opens officially. On the anticipated revenue, Smith stated, “Obviously, the revenue is not what it would normally be. That’s to be expected.”

Following suit, Southland flipped the switch on about 1,108 gaming terminals in May and raked in $92 million in wagers that same month. The company went on to report $200 million in wagers in June, as well as $242 million in July. Southland’s turnaround was approximately 90% of its July 2019 earnings, indicating significant returns.

We should note that other factors, including strict mandates by the ADH, as backed by guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help slow and contain the spread of the coronavirus, also contributed to the loss in earnings. Per the strict health policies, casinos and gaming centers must enforce the requirement for face masks for all persons and maintain a six-foot distance at all times.

Following Governor Ada Hutchinson’s directive, casinos can only operate at one-third of their guest capacity and ensure that they screen all customers and staff before they enter the facility. Management must also appoint a dedicated team to manage the queues for making purchases, entering and exiting the facility, and other purposes.


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