The Quapaw Nation of Oklahoma awaits license receipt to proceed with the construction of its first Arkansas casino
Quapaw Nation’s casino in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, could open doors as early as 2020, it became known earlier this week. The tribe has revealed plans to build a full-scale gaming venue in the city as part of a recently voted and approved expansion of the state’s gambling industry.
While the Quapaw Nation is yet to determine the exact site where it would develop its casino resort, the tribe’s Chairman, John Berrey, said earlier this week that the property would occupy 200 acres of land and that they have been exploring potential locations.
Mr. Berrey, who also chairs the tribe’s Downstream Development Authority, spoke at a Monday conversation with Pine Bluff residents at the city’s Convention Center. The event was moderated by City Mayor Shirley Washington who has recently penned a letter of support for the Quapaw casino project to the Arkansas Racing Commission. Location, design, job opportunities, and the timeline of events leading up to the opening of the gambling venue were among the main topics discussed during the conversation.
The tribal chair told Pine Bluff residents that they are not 100% certain where the property will be located and that they will announce a final site once they receive their gaming license from the Arkansas Racing Commission.
Mr. Berrey also pointed out that everyone employed at the casino will receive proper training and that their contract will include benefits of matched 401k, health insurance, employee dining, and uniform cleaning, among other things.
”Twin” of an Existing Quapaw Nation Casino
Few things are known about the future Pine Bluff casino, but its name is one of them. The property will be called Saracen Casino Resort. It will be named after a former Quapaw Nation tribal leader who had originally been buried in Pine Bluff.
In an exclusive interview with NBC affiliate KARK-TV, Mr. Berrey has said that their new casino will practically be a twin of Downstream Casino Resort, their existing facility in Oklahoma. The official further pointed out that they hope they will get all the necessary permits by April and that they will be able to commence construction sometime in the summer. Mr. Berrey said that maybe it will take around 10 months to open at least part of their new resort. This is how long it took them to start operation at their Oklahoma property.
A rendering of the proposed Pine Bluff casino reveals what could be a 20-story building, the tallest one in the city. The resort will also feature a larger parking. It will likely be developed in phases, with the casino and dining options being part of phase one and a hotel and other amenities likely to be launched in the next phase.
Casino gambling was legalized in Arkansas early in November, when residents of the state approved the so-called Issue 4, a constitutional amendment that allowed the construction of two casinos in Jefferson and Pope Counties and the addition of casino-style gambling at the existing Oaklawn Park and Southland Park race tracks.
The Arkansas Racing Commission will now have to draft the rules under which the state’s young casino industry will be run. The regulator has up to March 14 to craft a regulatory framework. The state Legislature will then have to approve it in order to become effective.
The commission will also have to issue a license to the Quapaw Nation that would authorize the tribe to operate casino gambling. Mr. Berrey said earlier this week that they have completed the application process and the regulatory body will now have to do administrative work before awarding the license.
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