West Memphis mayor urging Mid-Southerners to stay home as city casinos reopen next week

West Memphis mayor asking people to stay home from casino

WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. (WMC) - In Crittenden County, Arkansas there have been 212 reported COVID-19 cases and 7 deaths, but with Southland Casino opening Monday more people may be crossing the bridge to try their luck again at the casino.

West Memphis Mayor Marco McClendon has real concern they may see a spike when people from Shelby County and other parts of the region travel to West Memphis to gamble.

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Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson announced last week casinos could reopen Monday, May 18.

That is much earlier than the June 1 deadline McClendon wanted to start reopening the economy.

“I’m going to be consistent saying I wish everyone would stay closed to June 1 and we’ll evaluate the situation from there,” said McClendon.

Southland Casino Racing has been closed since March 16.

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Monday the casino can re-open at one-third capacity but McClendon is still urging Mid-Southerners to stay home.

"Just because it's open doesn't mean you've got to go," said McClendon.

Since Southland Casino went dark, it also meant a sizeable blow to the city’s funds.

In the month before the shutdown, records show the casino brought in over a half a million dollars in revenue to the city.

"Southland does have a large amount of tax revenue, but thanks to this city council and administration we have curbed spending," said McClendon.

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McClendon says despite the shutdown the city still has close to $1 million on hand and has over $600 million in capital investment into the city.

Right now he wants to focus on increased testing. Friday, the city is partnering with Walmart to open its first drive-thru testing site.

The site will be open Monday, Wednesday and Friday and you will need to have an appointment to get a test.

Residents can visit: www.doineedacovid19test.com for more information.

“Right now I just wanna be sure we get this right," said McClendon. “We’re going to get down the road and start this all over again.”

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