Quapaw Nation granted license for $350 million Arkansas casino

by Administrator
in Casino

A proposed casino with ties to the Quapaw Nation was granted a gaming license Thursday for a $350 million casino and resort in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

Saracen Development, LLC, also said it will move forward immediately with the project. The opening is set for the spring of 2020.

The parent of Saracen Development is Downstream Development, which is owned by the Quapaw Nation, the tribe that historically lived in eastern and southern Arkansas, but was forcibly relocated to Oklahoma in the 1830s.

The Quapaw Nation owns and operates Downstream Casino Resort, just across the Missouri line, which opened in 2008. It employs 1,100 people.

It also owns and operates Quapaw Casino in Miami, and a number of other businesses, including child care centers, a convenience store and gas station and RV park, a cattle company and processing plant, a greenhouse, a museum and more. 

Arkansas voters approved a constitutional amendment in November that legalized casinos in four Arkansas counties. Saracen Development was the only applicant for the Jefferson County casino license.

Pine Bluff's mayor and Jefferson County officials backed the Quapaw Nation's plan, which is a requirement under the amendment.

John Berrey, chairman of the resort development group, said in a statement, "We are digging in, literally as we speak, to build a showcase of a resort that will supercharge the region’s economy and excite the people of Arkansas."

 Berrey is also chairman of the Quapaw Nation Business Committee.

According to the statement, construction of the resort will create about 1,000 jobs immediately and work is expected to last about 11 months. The casino and resort will also hire about 1,100 permanent employees.