WEST MEMPHIS, AR (WMC) - Operators of Southland Gaming and Racing in West Memphis announced a major expansion Thursday that will add 400 permanent jobs to the community upon completion.
The $250 million expansion includes a new casino complex, state-of-the-art games, a culinary program and high-rise hotel. The project will expand Southland’s offerings to 2,400 gaming machines and as many as 60 live table games.
The new 113,000-square-foot casino complex will also feature new and expanded dining options, including a larger buffet, larger steakhouse restaurant, new food nall, new coffee shop, new player lounge and new center, lobby and steakhouse bars.
The 20-story hotel tower will feature 300 rooms including 216 standard room,s 72 corner suites and 12 penthouse suites on the top floor.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Sen. Keith Ingram joined several owners and operators of the company for the announcement. Hutchinson emphasized that it was the largest investment in the tourism industry in Arkansas history.
Construction is expected to begin by summer. The casino complex and parking garage, which will boast 1,250 covered spaces, are expected to be finished in about 12 months. Construction on the hotel tower is expected to take about 18 months.
The announcement comes after a vote in November to legalize casinos in Arkansas. Following that vote, Southland’s owners announced plans to build a $200 million hotel and conference center, but there was no mention of a casino.
Economists said casinos in the state would mean more jobs, tourism and ultimately more money for the area that could also have a large impact on Memphis and Shelby County.
Last year, more than 3 million people visited Southland Gaming and Racing. General manager David Wolf says the expansion will benefit neighboring communities like Memphis.
“We’ll compliment each other so I think it’s a win, win for everybody,” said Wolf.
The Greater Memphis Chamber released a statement of support following the announcement, welcoming the expansion.
“This kind of investment will reimagine what the gaming industry will look like and we are excited for our Chamber member,” said Beverly Robertson, president and CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber. “This announcement shows that the Greater Memphis Region’s momentum will benefit the economy in Tennessee and Arkansas.”
After factoring in the new jobs and state and county taxes, Southland’s expansion comes with an estimated economic impact of $144 million a year.