It turns out a cracked bridge can bring bad luck to a casino.
The three-and-a-half-month closing of the Hernando de Soto Bridge this year was costly for Southland Casino Racing in West Memphis, just 8 miles from the span that crosses the Mississippi River.
The impact doesn’t compare with the closing’s repercussions on commerce and transportation, but it was certainly felt at the tables and slots after inspectors discovered a crack in part of the bridge May 11 and immediately shut it down to traffic.
The Interstate 40 bridge, which carried 100,000 vehicles a day on average, didn’t reopen until repairs were finished at the end of July.
Figures from the Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration show that during May, June and July, gaming revenue at the longtime greyhound track and betting parlor declined by a third or more. After two straight months with gambling revenue above $30 million, Southland’s numbers fell to $20.5 million in May, with almost all the decline coming after the bridge closed. June’s gaming revenue was $16.29 million, down by nearly half from $30.3 million in March.
August casino numbers will be reflected in this week’s monthly report from the state, which should offer a glimpse at how Southland is rebounding. The casino complex, which is phasing out dog racing next year, has led the state in gambling revenue since casino-style gaming was introduced in October 2019.
In July, Southland’s total winnings of $19.7 million outpaced gambling winnings of $14.28 million at Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff and $13.4 million at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs.