ork at Quapaw Nation's Saracen Casino Resort continues at a fast pace as construction crews aims to have the 80,000-square-foot casino open for business in June 2020, in the upcoming 500,000-square-foot casino resort complex.
"We're doing the mechanical piping underground for the chillers, and we need to be out of the way for a crew to come in and pour concrete on the 30th," said Allen Dixon, a supervisor with Bernhard Construction, the subcontractor responsible for the central utility plant pipe work, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.
Once completed, Saracen Casino Resort, situated on 110 acres at Martha Mitchell Expressway and U.S. 63/79, will include 2,000 slot machines and 50 table games. The casino itself is scheduled to open for business in June 2020.
Provided everything stays on schedule, the casino will be followed by a 300-room hotel, spa, restaurants, conference center, an entertainment venue, and a museum and cultural center slated to open early in 2021.
This building effort currently employs about 300 people working in various construction jobs. But as the project progresses, as many as 800 construction workers will be on site, said Chris Roper, director of construction for the Quapaw Nation. Once fully up and running, Saracen Casino Resort projects to provide more than 1,000 full-time jobs, with most of those jobs going to residents of Pine Bluff and surrounding Jefferson County. Those jobs should represent a significant contribution to the economy of the area, which has suffered economically in the past two decades with declining population and a declining industrial base.
Jefferson County and Pine Bluff already are seeing economic benefit following completion of the Saracen Casino Annex and Q-Store, which opened in September. The Q-store and its attached, 15,000-square-foot annex, complete with 300 slot machines of all descriptions, employs more than 250 people and has already begun contributing to the tax base of the area.
In the final four days of September, according to the Arkansas Racing Commission, the annex took in over $1.7 million in revenue, paid out over $1.4 million in jackpots, took in just under $270,000 in gross profit, and remitted $35,000 to the state in taxes.
In October and November, according to the commission, the 300 terminals at Saracen Casino Annex generated more than $55 million in total revenue and paid out more than $46.5 million in winnings to customers in the same period. Saracen Casino Annex took in more than $8 million as its share of gross profits and out of that paid to the state nearly $1.2 million.
Pine Bluff's share of that money, said Carlton Saffa, project manager for Saracen Casino Resort, would come to just over $200,000, and Jefferson County should receive about $82,000. "These numbers will skyrocket once the main casino is finished and opened up," Saffa said. "When that happens, we'll have seven times the number of machines that we have operating now."
Quapaw Nation officials said at the outset that their intent was to get the casino up and running as quickly as possible, a point which Dixon confirmed. Quapaw Nation Chairman John Berrey said contractually the casino is scheduled to open by June 26, 2020. "We're doing everything we can to beat that date and I anticipate we will," Berrey said. "But, until we get a little further down the road we won't have a good feel for it."
Roper, who oversees the construction project, said the weather has been a major factor in the progress, but even with the rain, he said, the project is on schedule. "By the first of February the majority of our casino floor should be in the dry," Roper said. "We can really start moving faster then."