Does a cat have climbing gear? How could it not?
On Tuesday, November 6, Arkansas voters approved a state constitutional amendment to allow full scale casino gaming.
Oaklawn Racing & Gaming in Hot Springs and Southland Gaming & Racing in West Memphis will be able to expand from video electronic games of skill (video poker, and electronic blackjack) to poker, roulette and others.
The Arkansas Racing Commission has until March 14 to adopt rules and take administrative actions. The commission must start taking license applications by June 1.
The Shreveport-Bossier casinos started opening in 1990. The markets six casinos have been among the most successful in Louisiana.
Not only did the casinos add gaming jobs, but they also fueled the local construction industry that built the hotels and related facilities.
Additionally, the casinos have fostered many local companies that provide goods and services.
The economic impact of the six local casinos can not be underestimated. The Louisiana Gaming Control Board reported for fiscal year 2016-2017 that they had a combined payroll of $131.6 million and paid local fees of $29.2 million and property taxes of $10.5 million.
Historically, the Shreveport-Bossier City casino market has been heavily dependent on the densely populated Dallas-Fort Worth area for its customers.
But the regional gaming environment continues to evolve. Casino revenues in the Shreveport-Bossier City market have eroded with the rapid expansion of tribal casinos in Oklahoma.
The most recent (2017) Louisiana Gaming Control Board shows a loss of over 1000 local casino jobs in the 2014-2017 period.
The Shreveport-Bossier City market had adjusted gross revenues of $638.8 million in fiscal 2016-2017, a decrease of $28.1 million from the previous year, with $137.4 million in fees paid to the state.
Oaklawn should have its casino open by September 1, 2019.
No doubt local casinos will have the Labor Day blues then, if not earlier.
And how many jobs will be lost? Who knows, but the losses could be substantial.
And the same can be expected in local tax revenues.
All this is not good news for Shreveport Bossier.
(This article was/will be published in The Shreveport Times on Sunday, November 18, 2018)