Arkansas Casino in Pine Bluff Set To Break Ground in August
Early next month, Arkansas will open up a new casino and resort location in the state.
The Quapaw Nation of Oklahoma has moved into a ventures in the state of Arkansas, and on Aug. 5 at 11 a.m. CT, the casino groundbreaking ceremony will take place at the home of the Saracen Casino Resort, according to the Arkansas Times. This resort is a $350 million project by the Quapaw Nation.
Located in Pine Bluff, the Saracen Casino Resort groundbreaking will take place directly alongside the opening of the Saracen Annex Q-Store, a 20,000-square-foot convenience store positioned across the street. It mirrors what was built at the front of the Downstream Casino Resort, a store called the Q-Store.
Why Arkansas casino project now?
This is Quapaw Nation of Oklahoma’s third casino in the United States. The tribe is the owner and operator of the Downstream Casino Resort along the Oklahoma/Missouri state line and the Quapaw Casino in Oklahoma.
Why the name of the casino and location? The newly founded casino is named after Chief Saracen, once the leader of the Quapaw Nation. Saracen died in 1832 at the age of 97.
Right before his death, Quapaw Nation was forced to relocate to Oklahoma in the early 1830s; before then they lived in the eastern and southern parts of Arkansas.
“Saracen Casino will be a lot like Downstream in terms of style, design and luxury, and in what we think it will do for Pine Bluff,” John L. Berrey, chairman of the Quapaw Nation and of the Downstream Development Authority and Saracen Casino Development told the Joplin Globe in Joplin, Missouri. “But also, building Saracen Casino is a homecoming for the Quapaw people. That’s where we lived. It is where the great Chief Saracen is buried. So, this is a very special for us.”
According to estimates, the Joplin Globe reported, this casino building will create roughly 1,000 construction jobs and about 1,100 jobs that will be permanent by the spring of next year. The property spans 570,000 square feet sitting on 110 acres of land.
Just over 2,000 slot machines and 50 table games will be in the casino’s gaming floor which will be 80,000 square feet. Another 300 gaming machines will be the soon to be launched Saracen Annex Q-Store.
As for the hotel, it will house 300 guest rooms and many other features including restaurants, lounges and a variety of live entertainment.
The Quapaw Nation is also in the bison cattle business and plans to raise them in Pine Bluff, according to the Pine Bluff Commercial. The Quapaw Nation people are the only tribe in America that currently owns a USDA processing location, and they’ll also sell their own brand of coffee in the area.
Other Arkansas Casino Ventures
Another possible casino in Arkansas is making little progress.
In Pope County, the Arkansas Racing Commission members scheduled a hearing for an appeal in August from Gulfside Casino Partnership over its rejected application to open a casino.
The commission had denied the application, and four others, because it didn’t contain a letter of support from an elected local official currently in office. That is a requirement set forth in the state constitutional amendment passed by voters last fall, which opened the way for the state’s first-ever casinos.
Jake Perper covers casino news for TopUSCasinos.com. A veteran of more than a decade of sports writing, he has covered the Chicago Bears for the Bears Backer blog, and his stories have also appeared on nfl.com, The Tampa Tribune, The Naples Daily News and Bleacher Report. He is also the leas scout for Prep Hoops Florida, based in Tampa.