Amendment 100

Arkansas: Commission approves multi-state slot machine jackpot games; Saracen Casino to contract with IGT

Saracen Casino Resort's gaming floor.
Reading time 2:11 min

The Arkansas Racing Commission authorized Thursday state casinos to sign agreements with companies that offer multistate, progressive jackpot games on slot machines; thus allowing for the Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff to contract with IGT for the multijurisdictional wide area progressive system MegaJackpots.

With the commission's approval, Saracen Casino Resort will join participating casinos in Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey and South Dakota, an IGT official said in a letter dated to Arkansas Racing Commission Director Smokey Campbell.

Jennifer Rushin, tax division manager for the casino gaming section at the State Department of Finance and Administration, pointed out that the racing commission's rules approved in 2019 allow the state's casinos to start wide area progressive systems.

"They are slot machines that are linked to other states' slot machines, and you get the larger jackpots at the top and the vendor is responsible for the large jackpot, provided it is hit here," she commented, as reported by the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

According to Carlton Saffa, Chief Market Officer for Saracen Casino Resort, the property plans to "bring in primarily the Wheel of Fortune product, which is far and away the most popular product." The IGT platform is considered to be the industry standard, he said.

"We will begin to tell Arkansas as soon as we can get the machines in, assuming you all approve this, that our machines quite literally will be linked to the Las Vegas strip," he said before the racing commission. "That's what Amendment 100 has allowed us to do."

Afterward, Saffa said he's confident the casino's machines will be linked to the slot machines on the Las Vegas strip by the end of this year.

System links will be installed to the Money Mania game, which has a primary reset amount of $100,000, and three separate Wheel of Fortune games with primary reset amounts of $200,000, $500,000 and $1 million, respectively, an IGT official said in a letter to Campbell. The games range from a penny-based game to a $5 game.

Amendment 100 to the Arkansas Constitution authorizes the state Racing Commission to issue four casino licenses. These are for expanding gambling operations at Oaklawn Racing and Gaming in Hot Springs and Southland Casino Racing in West Memphis, and for casinos in Jefferson and Pope counties with the endorsement of local officials. Casinos are currently operating in Hot Springs, Pine Bluff and West Memphis.

Last November, the Pope County casino license was handed to Cherokee Nation Businesses to build Legends Resort & Casino after the Arkansas Racing Commission ruled to nullify the license previously awarded to Gulfside Casino Partnership. The Pope County casino license has long been a source of turmoil for the county and the state, resulting in numerous court cases. On July 11, the Russellville Planning Commission approved the proposed project.

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