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Jefferson County Support Quapaw Nation Casino

Ryan Knuppel

The local leaders of Pine Bluff have expressed their written support after a Quapaw Nation casino was authorized to expand in Arkansas. The Quapaw Nation has got many support letters from both the city and the county leaders. The letters support them in building a casino in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. They are planning to build a Saracen Casino Resort, and that could actually become the first full-scale casino in Arkansas. The reason why this state did not have casinos is due to the law that strictly forbade building them. However, the law changed recently, and it only takes for the resort to receive the approval so that the construction can commence.

The mayor of Pine Bluff Shirley Washington and the Judge of Jefferson County Booker Clemons wrote letters and sent them to the Arkansas Racing Commission in order to state their support for building the casino in their state. The main developer and operator of the casino will be Quapaw Nation’s Downstream Development Authority. They applied for a license as soon as the law allowed it, which happened after a ballot on November 6, where Issue 4 was voted on. There was a lot of turmoil before the legislative measure about the casinos actually made it to the ballot. Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge rejected the proposal for a couple of times before it was allowed. He stated that it lacks clarity and needs to be redefined before it was allowed to be voted on.

Issue 4 mostly focuses on the authorization of two casinos that will be allowed in Jefferson and Pope Counties. Furthermore, it calls for the extension of the Southland Gaming & Racing in West Memphis and Hot Spring’s Oaklawn Racing & Gaming. 54% of the voters supported this amendment which was enough for it to be passed down. The new casinos in Pope and Jefferson Counties also needed support from the leaders of these areas, but the extensions of the already existing gambling venues required no such thing. Both Judge Clemons and Mayor Washington wrote very similar support letters, stating that they had had a meeting with the representatives of Downstream and had talked about the plans for casinos. Both of the letters sent words of appraisal for the Quapaw Nation, stating that they had both the commitment and experience, as well as the qualifications for such projects. They firmly believe that a casino will bring prosperity to Pine Bluff, as the city has faced some serious issues recently, such as the growth of crime rates, poverty, and loss of population. The tribe selected the name Saracen Casino Resort in order to honor a former chief of the Quapaw tribe who was called Saracen and was buried in Pine Bluff. The casino should be open by early 2020 according to the latest projections. It should also help attract a lot of visitors and increase the overall standard of Pine Bluff.

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