Oaklawn Park is located in Hot Springs, AR and was started in the early 20th century as a horse racing track. Since that time, it has grown to become one of the most prestigious raceways in America. Though Oaklawn has existed since 1905, it wasn’t until 100 years later (2005) when legislature was passed that would enable them to offer electronic games.
Even more recently, table games began being offered with live dealers. This has led to a few notable expansions within the casino, which is now bigger than ever before in its history. The expansion was costly, totaling over $60 million when all was said and done. This ended up being the largest private-investment ever recorded in the city. Today Oaklawn is the largest casino in Arkansas, featuring over 60,000 square feet of gaming space.
Hot Springs has become a favorite vacation spot for locals not only because of the casino and racetrack here, but also because of the lake and Hot Springs National Park which are located nearby. The recent addition of table games has added to its popularity as well. Today, the casino at Oaklawn Park even offers a small poker room. Though it has just 5 tables, they run tournaments every few days as well as live daily cash games.
The casino at Oaklawn Park is relatively small, but has underwent several expansions in recent years. It features more than 1,000 slots and electronic machines in addition to live table games. Today it features a total of just 14 table games, mainly consisting of blackjack and three card poker. It does still offer roulette and craps, though these games are currently electronic. It is worth noting that unlike most other 24-hour gaming facilities across the United States, Oaklawn Park is only opened from 10am to 3am on weekdays and until 6am on Friday and Saturday.
There is not a ton of information available related to their new live table games, and when I visited in 2014 they were not present. This means they had to have been added sometime after, likely in 2015. There is also not much information available on the actual casino floor size, but the most recent information released states that the floor was expanded to about 65,000 square feet after its 2013 expansion. This is much larger than the 35,000 square foot floor that was once present.
All-in-all the casino here is nothing special, but does provide you with a nice gambling option when visiting the nearby area. I would say that most people who visit Oaklawn Park live nearby, or are racing enthusiasts as there are many better casino options across the United States. In my opinion it does not warrant a visit, unless you happen to be in the area. It is also worth noting that smoking is permitted in most areas of the casino at Oaklawn.
Oaklawn Park does not have too much to offer in the area of dining, restaurants and bars. It mainly caters to its horse racing visitors from January to April, and does not offer much beyond the racing season. There is only a few options available on a regular basis, which includes one bar, a lounge and two restaurants. Below we have outlined all of the options available here in the area of restaurants and bars.
– Silks Bar & Grill
– Pop’s Lounge
– Bistro 2705
– Racetrack Concessions
– Post Parade Restaurant (Only opened during live racing season)
– Carousel Terrace (Only opened during live racing season)
– Oaklawn Club (Only opened during live racing season)
The racetrack at Oaklawn Park is the reason behind the Casino being built here. The original racetrack was built in 1905, and has been host to its fair share of prestigious races over its storied history. It is host to live thoroughbred races from January to April and features a 1 mile oval dirt track.
This year the track is set to offer a $7.55 million stakes schedule, making it one of the best tracks in the country for horse owners and jockeys. The racetrack is a stadium style course, which features mainly bleacher-style seating in addition to club seats, luxury sweets and VIP boxes. Recently, Oaklawn was voted into the top ten for thoroughbred racetracks in North America by the Horseplayers Association.
The poker room at Oaklawn Park is relatively small, especially if you are accustomed to Las Vegas style rooms. It is one of the newest additions at the casino, and is home to just 5 live tables. Oaklawn generally runs just 3-4 tournaments per week, so it is worth checking the schedule before visiting if you are planning on playing poker here. They do offer live cash games during normal operating hours, and given the small size, it is recommended that you call ahead to ensure you get a seat.
Because Oaklawn Park is not your standard resort-style casino, it does not have a hotel on-site. This means you will have to venture elsewhere in the area to find a hotel. No need to worry though, as Hot Springs is located nearby and has a lot to offer in the way of hotels. They do not appear to have any co-ops or promotions going with local hotels however, which means you’ll likely have to pay full price for a room which is somewhat of a turn-off. There is also a lot to do in the surrounding area if you need a break from gambling, including the popular Hot Springs National Park.