Oaklawn gaming area bringing in major profits for city, expansion underway

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) --{}Horses may not be rushing out of the starting gate at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs this time of the year, but construction workers have the whips out. Oaklawn's expansion project to add 58,000 square feet of gaming area is underway. Although known as a racetrack for thoroughbred horse racing, its gaming area is bringing in quite the revenue for not only Oaklawn itself, but Hot Springs as a whole. With the hammering of each nail Oaklawn's involvement in virtual casino-style gaming takes the next step. "You know we're at capacity on our busy nights. Friday and Saturday nights, especially during the race meet, we're at capacity," said Oaklawn spokesperson Jennifer Hoyt. In 2014 alone, Oaklawn made revenue payments to the City of Hot Springs in the amounts of $91,831, $100,595 and $117,587. The latter is the largest monthly payment since gaming started in 2006. "You know we have really stepped up our training efforts without employees trying to really make a great experience for our guests," Hoyt added. Steve Arrison, CEO of the Hot Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the track isn't only providing funds from gaming profits, but more traffic means additional taxes from food and beverage. "Currently right now with the live meet plus with what's going on with the casino at Oaklawn, they're one of our top five tax collectors as far as our three-percent advertising and promotion tax," Arrison added. Documents given by the city show that Hot Springs has brought in more than $4 million from Oaklawn's gaming area since it opened in late 2006. The money goes into a general fund for various projects.