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A New $350-Million Casino Breaks Ground in Arkansas

Ryan Knuppel

Saracen Casino ResortArkansas is doing pretty well when it comes to casinos as it is going to get a brand new venue worth $350 million which just broke ground recently. After the state’s official passed legislation regarding more gaming and sports gambling, many new opportunities arose that could further improve the economy of Arkansas.

The name of the casino is Saracen Casino Resort, and it is going to be located in Pine Bluff. The first step towards the completion was taken, followed by a ceremony that celebrated breaking ground for the construction of the casino. Once completed, the resort will feature a hotel with a total of 300 rooms, in addition to a casino, restaurants, and a convention center. The residents of Pine Bluff will also have an opportunity to work in the facility, as it will feature more than 1,000 permanent positions.

Who Were The Initial Bidders?

Casino operators were not initially interested at building a casino in Pine Bluff, and the only bidder was Quapaw Nation Tribe’s Downstream Development Authority (DDA). Pine Bluff is located in Jefferson County, which was one of the four Arkansas Counties that received approval for building a casino. Additional properties will be constructed in Hot Springs and West Memphis. However, the fourth property’s place is still not determined at the moment.

John L. Berrey, the chairman for Saracen Casino Development and DDA, issued a statement saying that the entire idea of building a new casino reminds him of the first days of Downstream. He added that Saracen Casino would resemble Downstream in terms of style, luxury, and design. Furthermore, Berrey stated that Quapaw people saw the construction of Saracen Casino as a sort of homecoming as that was the place where they had once lived. In fact, Pine Bluff is a place where one of the most important figures for the tribe, Chief Sarace, is buried.

Plans for the Future

If all goes well, the casino should open its doors to visitors by June 2020. Other amenities are expected to do the same by the end of the next year. However, locals will have an opportunity to taste the offer by Saracen Casino even sooner, as there will be a convenience store that will also include a couple of slot machines.

Other notable people who attended the groundbreaking ceremony were Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin. Griffin stated that the construction of the casino would be a real “game-changer” for the area, as the entire area was poverty-stricken. Compared to surrounding areas, Pine Bluff hasn’t been doing pretty well lately, and the casino could help its residents by offering jobs and filling in the coffers from taxes.

One of the reasons why the fourth county is still not determined is because the residents of Pope County, which was initially intended for the fourth casino, voted against it. The Arkansas Racing Commission is required to listen to the will of the people and will not approve a license for the fourth casino as long as the residents are against it.

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