Nation | Tribe: Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma
US Hwy 63/79 at Martha Mitchell Expressway
Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Saracen Casino Resort is a $350 million casino, hotel and event venue in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.
A temporary casino named Saracen Casino Annex opened in October 2019 and replaced a year later by a permanent casino on October 15, 2020. A hotel with spa and an event center are planned to open in 2022.
On June 13, 2019 the Arkansas Racing Commission unanimously approved the casino license sought by the Quapaw Tribe to build a casino in Jefferson County east of the Pine Bluff Mall in Pine Bluff. The casino will be named Saracen Casino Resort after Quapaw Chief Saracen, who was buried in Pine Bluff back in 1832.
The Quapaw Tribe has worked with local officials for the past 5 years to bring a casino to Pine Bluff. The casino project is supported by government leaders of both Pine Bluff and Jefferson County.
The Quapaw Nation are building the $350 million dollar Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff after winning a casino license from the Arkansas Racing Commission. Arkansas voters approved Amendment 3 in the Nov 2018 election legalizing casino gambling and authorizing the state to issue casino licenses for the first time ever.
The groundbreaking for the Saracen Casino was held August 5, 2019.
During construction a temporary casino named Saracen Casino Annex opened Oct. 1, 2019. The Saracen Casino Annex hosts 300 slots machines and is located at 3513 Market St in Pine Bluff.
The permanent casino was officially opened Oct. 15, 2020. Saracen's 80,000-square-foot casino floor features 2,300 slot machines and 40 table games.
A 300-room hotel with conference center and spa will open adjacent to the casino in 2021. An entertainment venue is also planned for 2021.
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349-acre land site
80,000 square foot casino floor
Open 24 hours daily
2,300 slot machines
40 table games
Red Oak Steakhouse
Legends Sports Bar
Entertainment venue is planned. Detail are to be announced.
13-story hotel tower with 300 rooms, conference center and spa.
January 7, 2022
A marketing official at Saracen Casino in Pine Buff told the press last week that Saracen is ready to launch mobile sports betting upon final approval by the state. That approval could come later this month and allow the mobile sportsbook to launch in time for the Super Bowl.
Sports betting inside Arkansas casinos was legalized in July 2019. Last week the Arkansas Racing Commission took a major step towards expanding sports betting across the state by approving rules for mobile betting. The rules must now be approved within the state legislature. A legislative committee is scheduled to review the rules later this month. If affirmed, Arkansas mobile sports betting could open before next month's super bowl game.
Saracen Casino's Chief Market Officer,, Carlton Saffa, told the press this week that Saracen's mobile sportsbook is ready to launch immediately following the rules approval by the state legislative committee.
October 29, 2021
Saracen Casino celebrated its first anniversary on October 20th, The casino opened last year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time there was uncertainty about the financial impact the pandemic would have on the casino. However, a year later the casino is thriving and the outlook is strong.
"Economically it has been a great benefit for the city and the county. They have created jobs and given people a reason to come visit and have something to do. It's been great for the citizens."
- Mayor Shirley Washington
Saracen has generated $18 million in taxes.
Two credit rating agencies, Moody's and Standards & Poor's, have upgraded Saracen's credit rating.
All the success has improved the likelihood that construction will start sooner on a 13-story hotel with 300 rooms, an event center and a parking structure.
January 28, 2021
After opening on October, 15, 2020, the new Saracen Casino is showing successful numbers. Even with the COVID-19 limitations on capacity, the customer traffic has been strong over the last two months. Revenues have been positive.
Carlton Saffa, chief marketing officer for the casino, put it this way:
"What I am proud of is really pretty simple. When the project was proposed, many people that we have a lot of respect for said it was not going to work in Pine Bluff. And they're eating crow right now. This has been a success. We have proven the naysayers wrong."
Saracen Casino showed slightly better numbers last quarter than Oaklawn Racing Casino.
|Slot Machines||$7.28 M||$7.22 M|
Saffa said Quapaw Nation officials are pleased with the numbers and noted that Saracen's performance against Oaklawn shows Saracen is "doing a lot of things right".
October 19, 2020
Last thursday the Saracen Casino officially opened its new permanent gaming facility featuring 2,300 slot machines, 40 table games and several restaurants. Construction on the casino began in August 2019, and atemporary casino, the Saracen Casino Annex, opened in October 2019. An event center and a hotel are planned for 2021.
Saracen Casino is implementing several health and safety procedures to protect against the COVID-19 pandemic. Masks must be worn by all employees and guests and social distancing is enforced at the gaming tables and in the restaurants.
August 13, 2020
Saracen Casino Resort will hire 800 new workers in the next few weeks as the new Pine Bluff casino prepares to open. The grand opening date has not been announced, however it is expected in early October.
Most of the 800 new hires will receive one to two weeks of paid training prior to the opening. Nearly 400 of the new jobs will be in the food and beverage department supporting six restaurants and the lounge bars. Other jobs are available throughout the property in areas of administration, IT, janitorial, grounds keeping, parking and security.
The total employment at the Saracen Casino will be 1,200.
"Saracen Casino Resort offers competitive wages, company paid holidays, vacations, and a complete benefits package including medical, dental and vision coverage for each employee, employee parties, free uniforms and a cafeteria style meal for every shift you work!"
February 2, 2020
Construction of the Saracen Casino's 80,000-square-foot gaming floor and restaurants is preceding 24/7 towards a completion date of June 26. John Berrey, chairman of the Quapaw Nation, hopes that date is earlier. He said, "My goal is sometime in May to have a soft opening."
The current construction is the first phase of the $350 million casino resort project. Phase 2 will add a hotel and events center sometime next year. The completed casino resort will total 540,000 square feet.
The new casino will open with 2,300 slot machines, 30-40 table games and seven restaurants around the perimeter. The restaurants will include the Red Oak Steakhouse, Legends Sports Bar, a buffet, three fast food venues and a coffee shop.
September 29, 2019
A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled at 11 AM Oct. 1 at the Saracen Casino Annex, where doors will open to 300 new slot machines inside a 15,000-square-foot building.
The location is across the street from the Sacracen Casino building site and next to the Saracen Q-Store at 3513 Market St in Pine Bluff.
Courtesy of THV11.com
July 27, 2019
The Quapaw Nation of Oklahoma will celebrate the groundbreaking for the Saracen Casino Resort at 11 AM Monday August 5th. The event will be held at 3512 Market St. in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.
The Arkansas Racing Commission approved the casino license June 13, 2019 to build this casino in Jefferson County. Construction is expected to be completed in mid-2020.
The casino will have a 80,000-square-foot gaming floor with 2,300 slot machines and 40 table games.
The hotel will offer 300 guest rooms and suites including a spa, restaurants and lounges. There will also be an entertainment venue, conference center, a museum and cultural center.
The total project will be 570,000 square feet built on a 110 acre site.
As part of the cermony August 5, the Quapaw Nation will also celebrate a ribbon-cutting for their new Saracen Annex Q-Store, a convenience store across the street from the casino site. The store is 20,000-square-feet with 300 gaming machines.
June 14, 2019
Yesterday the Arkansas Racing Commission unanimously approved the casino application submitted by the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma to build the Saracen Casino Resort in Jefferson County at Pine Bluff. The $350 million casino resort is supported by both city and county officials.
Quapaw's Downstream Development Authority will develop the project and manage the operation. The Saracen Casino Resort will be modeled after Downstream Casino Resort in Quapaw, Oklahoma. A major difference is the Saracen Casino Resort will not be an Indian gaming casino regulated by the National Indian Gaming Commissions. Instead it will be a commercial casino licensed and regulated by the Arkansas Racing Commission.
Construction is expected to take 11 months and employ 1,000 workers. A grand opening is expected in the first half of 2020.
The Quapaw Tribe was the sole bidder for the Jefferson County casino license. This is the third casino authorized in the state. The first two licensees were Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort and Southland Casino Racing. Both began operations April 1, 2019.
The fourth and final license will be issued for a Pope County casino. Five applicants submitted proposals to the Arkansas Racing Commission prior to the May 31 deadline. All five applications have been declined. The rejected applicants were:
Cherokee Nation and Legends Joint Venture
Gulfside Casino Partnership (River Valley Casino Resort)
Hard Rock International & Warner Gaming (Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Arkansas)
Robert and Ruth Kehl
All were rejected for not having documented local support from city officials or the county judge.
May 1, 2019
The Quapaw Nation delivered an official application and a $250,000 check to the Arkansas Racing Commission office today. It was the opening day for applicants to apply for the two available licenses in Pope and Jefferson counties. Applications can be submitted through May 30.
The Quapaw Nation plan to build a 240 million casino named Saracen Casino Resort. It will be located in Jefferson County near The Pines mall in Pine Bluff.
Construction of Saracen Casino Resort would start immediately upon approval of the application. It will take about twelve months to complete the casino and restaurants and another six months to complete the hotel and convention center
March 9, 2019
If approved by the Arkansas Racing Commission, the Quapaw Tribe intends to break ground on its Saracen Casino Resort immediately after issuanace of a gaming license.
John Berrey, a Quapaw Tribe chief and project chairman, described the casino as being in the programming phase. The $320 million financial target to build the project is based on $100 million for construction materials, $120 million for the cost of construction and $100 million to furnish and equip the facilities.
"Programming is a big word for taking all the stuff we want and jamming it into a building that looks good and figuring out how much it cost, because I have to borrow this money," John Berrey said. "Twelve years ago, you (could) get 10 times your income, but now it's three or four times, so I'm limited by our feasibility study to what I can borrow. We've been working for the last two weeks, and we want a lot of stuff, but we don't want to pay a whole lot for it."
Berrey believes construction can be completed on a similar schedule as the Downstream Casino and Resort in Oklahoma, an earlier project he managed. If so, it will take ten months to construct the outside of the Saracen Casino Resort, and complet the restaurants and gaming areas. Construction of the hotel will take another six months.
Berrey said, "We'll build the structure, put the skin on it ... we'll focus on opening the casino so I can start generating income to help pay for finishing up the hotel and convention space. So, let's say we get our license mid-April, I'm thinking I'd like to see it open by Valentine's Day 2020."
February 26, 2019
This is a summary of the key progress made since the Nov 2018 election which allowed a casino to be built in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.
The Pine Bluff casino plan was submitted by the Downstream Development Authority of the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma. This is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Quapaw that has owned and operated the Downstream Casino Resort in Quapaw, OK since 2008.
The Pine Bluff casino will be named Saracen Casino Resort in honor of Chief Saracen, a Quapaw leader who was buried in Pine Bluff in the mid-1830s.
Downstream Development Authority was selected by leaders in Pine Bluff and Jefferson County to build and operate the casino in Pine Bluff.
The casino site is located at the intersection of US Hwy 63/79 and the Martha Mitchell Expressway. This is across from the Pines Mall and the Social Security Administration.
Construction plans are in place and ready to break ground as soon as the casino license is issued by the State Racing Commission. This could be as early as April of May.
Construction will take 10 months and cost $210 to $240 million dollars.
An estimated 1,000 temporary workers will be needed for construction and 1,000 to 1,100 workers will be permanently employed by the casino.
The grand opening is targeted for Valentine's Day 2020.
Downstream Development announced the purchase of the Southern Edge Truck Stop on U.S. Hwy 63. This is a 24/7 fuel station and convenience store near the casino site.
Southern Edge Truck Stop, 3513 Market St, Pine Bluff, AR 71603, (870) 534-2402
December 09, 2018
The proposed Saracen Casino Resort has received letters of support from city and county government leaders. The letters were sent to the Downstream Development Authority. The group is part of the Oklahoma based Quapaw Nation.
The tribe owns the Downstream Casino Resort and the Quapaw Casino.
On Wednesday the Racing Commission will meet to discuss the proposed casino.
If approval is given, the Saracen Casino Resort could open by the end of next year.
Voters approved a constitutional amendment that would expand gaming on November 6 of this year. This was Issue Four on the ballot.
Downstream Development Authority contributed $3.65 million to the campaign to pass the expanded gaming measure.
November 08, 2018
By the end of April, a permit could be granted for a casino in Pine Bluff. By June ground could be broken. The casino could be opened by the beginning of 2020. The casino would be owned by the Quapaw Tribe from Oklahoma.
If approved the casino would offer a range of gambling including sports betting.
The tribe was a major supporter of the expanded gaming law, Issue 4.
Officials for Pine Bluff have worked with the tribe for 5 years in effort to develop a casino there. The exact location for the casino has not been released. However, it could be on the city's southwest side.
The Quapaw have a historical connection to Pine Bluff as their ancestral homeland.
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