n Monday, Quapaw Nation Chairman John L. Berrey was joined by Pine Bluff Mayor Shirley Washington and Jefferson County Judge Gerald Robinson for a groundbreaking celebration of the USD 350 million Saracen Casino Resort in Arkansas.
Other special guests included Lt. Governor Tim Griffin, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, members of the state Legislature and the Arkansas Racing Commission.
“Downstream Development Authority of the Quapaw Nation is honored to have been selected to bring this outstanding facility to the area. Today marks the beginning of the Quapaw Nation’s return to Pine Bluff, and we are excited to be a key part of the continuing revitalization of the city,” Berrey said, as reported by Miami Ok.
This project is a result of the casino amendment voters passed in the 2018 General Election. It allowed Oaklawn Racing and Southland Gaming and Racing to expand its casino services as well as the building of two additional casinos. One would be in Pope County while the other would exist in Jefferson County. The Racing Commission has yet to award a license for Pope County, which has dealt with delays concerning local permission for a casino’s construction.
Alex Lieblong, chairman of the Arkansas Racing Commission, was on hand in support of the Saracen Casino Resort. “A partnership with the Quapaw Nation is showing itself to be a great choice for Jefferson County,” he said. “The Racing Commission has worked to ensure the will of the people was respected in a timely manner. We were impressed with the professional manner in which the Quapaw handled the process. It was evident that Chairman Berrey and the Quapaw Nation had a good ground game here and earned the support of the community. I look forward to working with the Quapaw in the years ahead.”
“The path for revitalization in Pine Bluff is clear,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “With the Quapaw Nation planting roots in Pine Bluff, this new endeavor with good-paying jobs will bolster economic development and breathe new life into Pine Bluff and southeast Arkansas.”
The Saracen Casino Resort is the Quapaw Nation’s first community development endeavor in Arkansas and is expected to create 1,100 permanent jobs. The resort’s gaming floor will include more than 2,000 slot machines and 50 table games throughout 80,000 square feet of the gaming floor. Also, the resort will boast a 300-room luxury hotel with restaurants and lounges, a spa, conference center, and museum and cultural center.
The casino is scheduled for a June 2020 opening, with the hotel and entertainment venue opening in December 2020. This first phase of construction will include the Saracen Casino Annex, which is set to open in October. The annex will offer visitors access to 300 slot machines.
“The resort will also include a learning center, daycare, as well as a health clinic, and safety/fire and emergency medical services facilities will be featured on the site to help ensure guests’ and employees’ well-being,” Berrey said. “Our goal is to boost the local and state economy while investing in its residents by adding jobs and partnering with the city to enhance the quality of life.”
Monday also marked the grand opening of the Saracen Q-Store, a 20,000-square foot convenience store and gas station. Earlier this week, first responders, EMS employees, teachers and construction personnel enjoyed breakfast and lunch at the facility, which is now open 24/7.
The tribe operates two Indian gaming facilities in Oklahoma — the Quapaw Casino in Miami, and the Downstream Casino Resort near the Oklahoma/Missouri line. Downstream also extends into the neighboring states of Kansas and Missouri but gaming does not currently occur on those portions of the property.