The Quapaw Nation has reportedly begun building its Saracen Resort Casino in Central Arkansas in hopes of being able to open the first phase of the coming $350 million development in about one year’s time.
According to a report from local television broadcaster KATV, the federally-recognized tribe’s Downstream Development Authority business arm received its casino license earlier this month and now anticipates launching gaming and dining operations inside the new Jefferson County venue by the end of next May. The Quapaw Nation detailed that these initial facilities are to be joined some six months later by a 300-room hotel to make the Saracen Resort Casino almost a twin of its existing Downstream Casino Resort, which is located in the neighboring state of Oklahoma.
In the meantime, the tribe explained that it is busy transforming the adjacent site of a former truck stop into a temporary casino complete with approximately 300 slots. John Berrey, Chairman for the Quapaw Nation, purportedly told KATV that this provisional facility is being readied concurrent with work on its larger Saracen Resort Casino and could be ready to welcome gamblers as soon as the end of September.
Berrey reportedly told KATV…
“We’re going to be adding the annex to it, which will have machines in it for people to begin gaming in approximately five months. At the time we open the annex, you’ll see the foundation, steel beams and a lot of activity happening at the Saracen [Resort Casino] main complex. So it’s not one before the other.”
The tribe only completed the purchase of the site for its coming temporary casino about a week ago and the parcel will need to be annexed into the nearby city of Pine Bluff before initiating gaming operations. Berrey purportedly moreover stated that his tribe is currently working on the project using a construction permit from Jefferson County but hopes to transfer this authorization once the required appropriation takes place.
The Saracen Resort Casino is one of four casinos that were authorized after voters in Arkansas narrowly passed a state constitutional amendment as part of November’s mid-term elections. This measure allowed Oaklawn Racing and Gaming in the city of Hot Springs along with West Memphis’ Southland Park Gaming and Racing to transform into full-scale casinos while furthermore giving the Arkansas Racing Commission permission to authorize one similar facility each for the more rural Pope County and Jefferson County.