NOVEMBER 9, 2006 -- POSTED AT 10:00 P.M. CST
WEST MEMPHIS, AR -- The bright lights and sounds of slot machines just became more prominent in Region 8. It took a vote and a lot of controversy but electronic games of skill are now a part of the newly renovated Southland Park in West Memphis.
In 1956, Southland Park began as a greyhound race track. Now 50 years later, they continue to carry on that same greyhound racing tradition, but now they with a new era of gaming and a completely modernized facility.
"The people are so excited about it. They come in and they're amazed at how much it looks like Las Vegas," says Diane McAdoo, who works at the new facility.
Forty million dollars worth of renovations were made to Southland Park, with the new games of skills being the newest addition. In 2005, Crittenden County voters passed legislation to allow the games to be included at Southland. McAdoo, a West Memphis resident and new employee at the park, says she's thrilled to see the tax money stay in-state.
"Mostly I'm excited because it has brought jobs to the community, money, and excitement. I think it will be a big asset for West Memphis, Marion and Crittenden County," says McAdoo.
When you walk in the door, it's got that casino feel. Not only are gaming machines, blackjack and poker tables lined along the floor, but you've got "The Juke Joint," a nightclub and sports bar for your entertainment. Just around the corner, you can find the "World Market Buffet," seating nearly 300 people.
"It was a major remodeling of the facility. We wanted to create a first class entertainment facility for the people of West Memphis and the Memphis area," says Ron Sultemeier, the President of Delaware North Gaming & Entertainment, the owner of Southland.
Lebern Sanders lives in Memphis and was there as the doors opened, ready to place his bets.
"I like to play the machines and it keeps me from driving all the way to Mississippi. I'd rather come right here because it's only about 10 to 15 minutes away," says Sanders.
It's basically a new-age casino, now right here in Arkansas, an investment locals are calling priceless for the future of the delta.