If casino numbers are any indication, the pandemic recession is over.
The latest state Racing Commission report indicates total gambling at the three casinos has, in sum, more than regained ground lost when the emergency was declared in March 2020.
Some key comparisons:
OAKLAWN IN HOT SPRINGS
In February 2020, before the pandemic hit, it reported $157.4 million in slot machine betting, the biggest form of gambling. Counting all forms of gambling (table games and sportsbook), Oaklawn that month reported $14.4 million in net house winnings (which is not a profit figure, but the amount on which the state tax is assessed.) The state tax paid that month was $1.8 million.
All casinos in Arkansas were closed in April. When they reopened under masking and distancing rules, revenue plummeted, bottoming out for Oaklawn in May 2020 to a house win of $5 million and a $650,000 state tax take.
Now, look at March 2021. Slot machine betting hit $148 million. The house net win was $13.8 million and the state tax was $1.7 million.
SOUTHLAND IN WEST MEMPHIS
It had $303 million in slot machine gambling in February 2020, a net house win of $24 million and state taxes of $4.8 million. It closed in April 2020 and when it returned to business in May, reported a $7.4 million house win and $1.2 million in taxes.
March 2021, Southland had $358 million in slot machine gambling, a house win of roughly $30 million and $6 million in total taxes.
SARACEN IN PINE BLUFF
The newest casino in Arkansas only operated an annex in February 2020 and opened a full-fledged casino in October.
It had $65 million in slot gambling in February, with a net house win of $4.8 million and $630,000 in taxes.
It also closed in April and had its lowest month in May, with $921,000 in house winnings and taxes of $119,000.
In March, it reported $160 million in slot machine gambling, a house win of $14 million and $1.8 million in total taxes.
In summary, state casino tax take in February 2020 from the three casinos was roughly $7.2 million. Last month, it was roughly $9.4 million.
People are going out again.