In the state of Arkansas, legislation was passed that will allow more gaming to be offered. Included in the mix is a brand new casino. The Saracen Casino Resort will be located in Pine Bluff and cost $350 million to construct. This week, a groundbreaking ceremony was held to begin the process of construction.
Details of the Project
The new casino will be home to a gaming floor of course as well as 300 hotel rooms, restaurants and a convention center. Over 1,000 locals will be provided permeant employment within the new facility. The Downstream Development Authority will operate the casino, a group that is part of the Quapaw Nation Tribe. The group was the only one to bid to create a casino facility in Jefferson County.
The county is one of four total that have approval to play host to a casino venue. Properties will also be created for West Memphis and Hot Springs. The fourth location has yet to be determined. The project is very special to the Quapaw Nation Tribe.
John L. Berrey, chairman of the DDA and Saracen Casino Development, stated that the property will look similar to Downstream in style and design. The build is a homecoming of sorts for the tribe as this is where they have lived and where Chief Saracen is buried.
If the plans are completed as expected, the casino will be ready for operation by June 2020. Additional amenities of the property will be completed by the end of next year. Several big names in the state were on hand during the groundbreaking ceremony this week including the Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin and the Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. Quapaw tribe members were also present.
While Jefferson County is open to the casino build, other counties in the state were not so welcoming. The fourth county chosen during the recent legislation passage involving casino expansion would Pope County. While last year’s vote approved the county for gaming, the local residents were not approving.
Residents quickly spoke out against any casino construction. Without any support from locals, the Racing Commission will not be open to approving a licensing request. Without any licensing approval, a fourth casino cannot be created.
The fourth location will most likely be at a standstill until some type of agreement or compromise can be made. This could take some time so the focus will most likely shift towards the Jefferson County venue as well as ideas for West Memphis and Hot Springs.
The addition of new casinos will be beneficial in many ways for the state. The venues will bring about revenues from residents as well as bring in more tourism to the region. In Jefferson County, the casino is expected to significantly change the area as there is a higher poverty level in Pine Bluff than other regions of the state.