Racing and gaming industry makes huge economic impact on Ark.
LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - The economic impact of the racing and gaming programs in Arkansas is nearly one billion dollars. Oaklawn Racing and Gaming and Southland Park Gaming and Racing brought in $895.5 million annually, according to a study released by the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and the Associated Industries of Arkansas. This resulted in 2,868 jobs, paying $74.3 million in annual wages in Arkansas. The study outlines gross economic impacts generated by racing and gaming, as well as their overall impact on Arkansas's economy, employment, tourism, and the horse and greyhound racing and breeding industries. Additional economic impacts were realized in the area of residential relocation in both the Hot Springs and West Memphis areas."Oaklawn's and Southland's continued growth in racing and gaming generates substantial investment and job growth in Arkansas," Randy Zook, President and CEO of the Arkansas State Chamber/AIA said. "This study shows we have an opportunity to not only stimulate job growth, but to draw economic activity from other states and increase collected taxes both directly and indirectly from the racing and gaming industry."Zook also said that over the past decade, the economic impact "exceeded expectations in every respect." He noted significant growth in investments, job creation, tourism, agriculture, and tax revenues for the state. Oaklawn's General Manager Eric Jackson said, "The economic impact traced to the two Arkansas facilities is clearly identified in this benchmark study. Remarkably, growth has been achieved without incentives or tax breaks of any kind.And according to Troy Keeping, General Manager of Southland, "Every day, we see patrons coming from nearby states to West Memphis and Hot Springs, contributing to our collective taxes, growth, job creation, and investment in Arkansas. Keeping added, "This has been a true Arkansas success story."A particular beneficiary of the economic impact has been the racing programs at the two Arkansas tracks. Oaklawn and Southland now have two of the top racing programs in America based on average daily purses. This is sparking tourism and Arkansas breeding industries.