HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (KTHV) - Oaklawn will soon up the ante at its gaming center.
The Hot Springs Planning Commission approved a site plan Thursday night to expand the racetrack's gaming area. Attracting more than a million visitors a year, Oaklawn's gaming center has seen major growth in visitors since the state approved electronic games of skill in 2006. Construction for the expansion will likely begin in May 2014 after Oaklawn finishes up its live racing season.
"On Friday and Saturday nights people are having trouble finding their favorite games," said Jennifer Hoyt, media relations manager for Oaklawn. She said the new 58,000 square foot addition would include 500 new electronic games, providing a solution to the park's growing pains.
"We have over a million visitors a year, so we have just seen phenomenal growth over the last four or five years."
The expansion will impact drivers along Central Avenue. Plans would push the gaming center farther south, resulting in the traffic light at the entrance of the park's south parking lot to be moved.
"We've been working with the state; we've been working with the highway department," she added.
Hoyt said with Oaklawn being the number one tourist attraction in the state, the park's odd look is favorable for success.
"Although it would just be gaming, the money generated would help improve our racing, so it would definitely be a benefit to all of Oaklawn," Hoyt said. "It's going to have a very positive impact on Hot Springs. It's going to mean more visitors to Hot Springs which will help Hot Springs tourism industry. Plus, it's going to be lots of new jobs."
Hoyt also said the Spa City will be winning as well with a boost to the city's economy.