Following a soft launch last week, the Quapaw Nation celebrated the official grand opening of its $350 million Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff, Arkansas on Tuesday, October 20.

According to the offical website, “Saracen offers guests first-class amenities and first-class personalized service in a Native American Casino resort setting.”

Property amenities:

The property features 80,000 sq ft of gaming space, including 2,000 slot machines, 30 gaming tables, a sportsbook, poker room, and several food and beverage options, including Quapaw Kitchens, which features a wide range of cuisines from Cajun to Asian; Legends Sports Bar, housing Saracen’s Sportsbook, a 2 25-ft. video wall, live entertainment stage and a fully operational in-house brewery; and The Post dining court and Crossroads Bar.

Upon completion, the property will also feature a 300-room luxury hotel with restaurants and lounges, a spa, conference center, museum and cultural center.

In a media statement, a spokesperson reportedly noted the significance the new business will have on the area’s economy…

“This region was once home to the Quapaw Nation. Our presence here is a homecoming, so it’s important to us that the city of Pine Bluff and Jefferson County thrive. This begins with investing in the individuals who live here. Gainful employment benefits the employee, but it also transforms that individual’s household and allows him or her to invest in local businesses and grow the local economy.”

Enabling amendment:

One of four casinos that were authorized after voters in the southern U.S. state narrowly passed state constitutional Amendment 3 as part of the November 2018 mid-term elections, the measure also allowed what was Oaklawn Racing and Gaming (now Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort) in Hot Springs and the former Southland Park Gaming and Racing (now Southland Casino Racing) in West Memphis to transform into full-scale casinos.

The amendment also gave the Arkansas Racing Commission permission to authorize one similar facility each for the more rural Pope County and Jefferson County.

Lone applicant:

The only applicant for the Jefferson County gaming license, the Quapaw Nation won approval for its gaming license during the June 13, 2019 meeting of the Arkansas Racing Commission.

The federally recognized tribe also owns the Quapaw Casino in Miami, OK, the Downstream Casino Resort in Quapaw, OK, and the 15,000 sq ft Saracen Annex, which features 300-slot-machines and is located adjacent to the Saracen Q Store, formerly the site of Southern Edge Truck Stop, and across the street from the Saracen Casino Resort.

The Downstream Development Authority of the Oklahoma-based tribe broke ground on the 200,000 square foot facility on August 5, 2019. At the time, Arkansas Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin called the casino resort a “game changer,” while John L. Berrey, Chairman of Saracen Development, LLC, said the project would have an “immediate, significant and long-term positive impact” on Pine Bluff, Jefferson County, and the entire state of Arkansas.

Gaming revenue allocation:

Per state law, the Pine Bluff resort casinos’ first $150,000 in annual net gaming receipts will be assessed at a rate of 13 percent with any subsequent earnings subjected to a 20 percent tax.