History of Hot Springs Gambling Museum
The History of Hot Springs Gambling Museum located at 3339-C Central Avenue in Hot Springs (Garland County) preserves, restores, and displays gambling memorabilia from Hot Springs’ rich gambling history. In particular, the museum covers early twentieth-century gambling in Hot Springs.
The museum was established in 2016 as a partnership between two Hot Springs gambling history collectors, Lanny Beavers and Chris Hendrix, to display their collection for public viewing. The museum features a vast collection of items from notable Hot Springs venues such as the Vapors, the Southern Club, the Belvedere Club, Oaklawn Park, and the Essex Park Racetrack. The collection holds eighty functional slot machines, fifteen of which were used in Hot Springs, in addition to ten gaming tables among other pieces of gambling memorabilia. Every item in the collection was either used in Hot Springs or is a replica of what would have been used in Hot Springs. The collection also features a wide variety of items including advertisements, dice, cards, and gambling-related documents.
Shortly after the museum’s opening, Tony Frazier connected with Beavers and Hendrix to display his own collection of restored slot machines. Hot Springs resident Frazier, who has deep roots in the city, worked at Spa City Amusement Co., a company that both built and serviced slot machines in Hot Springs at the height of the city’s gambling era in the 1960s. During his time with the company, he witnessed the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) raid of the facility in 1967, and his own shop was raided in the second wave of Arkansas State Police raids. Images and items from the raid are displayed in the museum. When Frazier joined Beavers and Hendrix, the group rented additional space in the same shopping center to provide space for Frazier’s personal collection and repair workshop. In his workshop, Frazier restores vintage gaming machines for private customers.
Visitors to the museum are encouraged to use the restored slot machines on display with money provided by the museum. The group is always looking for new items to add to their collections. The museum also includes pieces from historic Hot Springs attractions such as Thomas A. Cockburn’s Ostrich Farm.
For additional information:
History of Hot Springs Gambling Museum. https://history-of-hot-springs-gambling-museum.business.site (accessed May 24, 2023).
Parkinson, Denise. “History of Hot Springs Gambling Museum.” Hot Springs Life & Home Magazine, November 2018, pp. 24–25. Online at http://www.onlinedigitalpublishing.com/publication/?m=10375&i=542455&p=24&ver=html5 (accessed May 24, 2023).
Schnedler, Jack. “All Bets Are Off.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, August 4, 2020, pp. 1E, 6E.
Wells, L. “Museum Recreates Illegal Gambling Years.” Sentinel-Record, March 29, 2018, pp. 1, 5A.
Abby M. Hanks
National Park College Honors Program
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