Arkansas Casino Project in Pine Bluff Progressing Smoothly

Arkansas Casino Project in Pine Bluff Progressing Smoothly
By Jake Perper

Arkansas has gone to work on casinos after Amendment 100, passed last year, officially legalized casino gambling in four locations in the state.

One of them is going well and the process is moving along smoothly, while the third has been rather problematic.

Jefferson County Casino Project Progresses

Jefferson County has the newest casino under construction, the Saracen Casino Resort. With it will come a boost in jobs, more tax revenue and an increase in tourism in the area.

The lone serious competitor for consideration in Jefferson County was the Quapaw Nation of Oklahoma.

"I don't want to spend a lot of time talking to the U.S. attorney about why or why not we might have cut a check to get a letter (of support)," Quapaw Nation Chairman John Berrey told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

"I don't have time for that, that's not what we're into, and that's the old way, the way things have always been done. We're just not into doing it the old way. We're into the new way with a commitment to people, to community, a commitment to people of color and other people of Jefferson County to have jobs and to have respect."

Back in June, the Arkansas Racing Commission approved the casino license that Quapaw Nation of Oklahoma had voted on unanimously for the Jefferson County location.

This will be a $350 million gaming location sitting on 110 acres. The project is set to feature an 80,000 square-foot gaming floor, 300-room hotel, entertainment venue and a convention center. It will house 2,000 slot machines and 50 table games. The plan will take just about a year and a half to complete.

Pope County and Pine Bluff Locations

Pope County has had a rough go of things with its building process, while the Pine Bluff Saracen Casino Resort opened this month, on Aug. 5. It is just 38 miles south of Little Rock.

The Arkansas Racing Commission just this week reopened the Pope County casino bidding process after the county's Quorum Court chose the Cherkokee Nation Businesses proposal. One of the losing bidders filed a lawsuit in Arkansas last week.

Licensing remains the issue with the Pope County venture as Cherokee Nation earned the Pope County Quorum Court's approval to launch The Legends Resort & Casino Arkansas just outside of the Russellville city parameters.

The vote was 8-4 in support of the Cherokee Nation’s bid which has a partnership with Legends, a company founded in 2008 by Arkansas native and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

The stadium-management, sports and live entertainment company which Jones created alongside late New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner is a big name to have on board.

The Arkansas gaming landscape is changing quickly, with the Jefferson County scheduled to open by December 2020. According to the Democrat-Gazette, Amendment 100 also allowed two existing facilities, Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs and Southland Gaming and Racing in West Memphis, to transform into fully operational casinos.

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Jake Perper covers casino news for 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, The Tampa Tribune, The Naples Daily News and Bleacher Report. He is also the leas scout for Prep Hoops Florida, based in Tampa.

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