Arkansas Man Allegedly Steals $17,000 in Chips from Oaklawn Casino

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Hot Springs, Arkansas’ Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort, which is undergoing a major expansion, recently saw a theft of $17,000 worth of poker chips, leading to the arrest of a local man.

Derrick Patrick Belton Jr. was charged this week in connection with the theft of chips from Arkansas’ Oaklawn Casino. (Image: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

Derrick Patrick Belton Jr., 42, was arrested this week on a theft of property charge for allegedly scooping up the chips before fleeing the casino, according to the Hot Springs Sentinel-Record.

Belton, who has a player’s card for Oaklawn, was playing blackjack at the casino on Friday, the report said. He allegedly stole several purple poker chips, valued at $500 each, from a rack located in front of a dealer at the casino, the newspaper said.

If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison. Belton was released after posting $3,500 bond. He is scheduled to appear in Garland County District Court on Dec. 10.

Oaklawn security gave police several video recordings and still-frame photos allegedly showing Belton, which were shot from different angles, the newspaper reported. They were compared to Belton’s driver’s license photo.

KARK reported that the player’s card, photos, and video led police to “positively I.D. him,” authorities told the TV station. Also, Oaklawn stopped using purple chips this week to avoid anyone using the stolen chips, KARK reported.

Oaklawn has over 1,200 slot machines. It also has 21 gaming tables.

The theft comes at the same time as an unrelated larceny of $16,000 worth of chips, allegedly taken by a Baltimore man from Horseshoe Casino Baltimore. Samuel Stovall, 31, was charged Saturday. Few details were provided by Baltimore police on the reported crime.

Sports Betting at Oaklawn

In July, Arkansas became the ninth state to offer sports betting when Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort officially opened its sportsbook at the Hot Springs track.

Sportsbooks were included in a constitutional amendment to bring casino gaming to the state. Voters endorsed the measure, casting 54.1 percent of the ballots for the amendment that allowed four casinos in the state.

The amendment granted licenses to Oaklawn, which is located about 50 miles southwest of state capital Little Rock, and to Southland Casino Racing in West Memphis, just across the Mississippi River from Memphis, Tenn. The other two casinos will be located near Pine Bluff, located 45 minutes south of Little Rock, and near Russellville, 75 miles northwest of the capital.

Unlike most states that have passed sports betting laws in recent months, Arkansas does not allow online betting, although that’s something Oaklawn would like to see.

The sports offered at the Oaklawn sportsbook include NFL and college football, professional and college basketball, pro and college baseball, pro ice hockey, pro soccer, combat sports, golf, auto racing, tennis, and Olympic events. The sportsbook, which includes both tellers and kiosks, is part of a $100 million investment in the racino, as a hotel and conference center is also planned.

Expanded Casino to Open in 2020

The casino expansion is scheduled to open in January or February, with an additional 28,000 square feet of gaming space. There will be more slots and table games, as well as a new high-limits space.

A seven-story, 200-room hotel and 14,000-square foot multipurpose area are also expected to open later next year, KARK reported. The multipurpose area will be able to hold up to 1,500 people for concerts, meetings, and business or social events. More parking will also be offered.

In a statement made earlier this year, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, said, “This project, which will be financed exclusively with private funds, not only represents one of, if not the largest, tourism related expansion projects in our history, it will also rank among the state’s largest economic development projects in 2019.”

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