Tuesday morning, Quapaw Nation Chairman John L. Berrey, Pine Bluff Mayor Shirley Washington and Jefferson County Judge Gerald Washington together cut the ribbon on the Saracen Casino Annex, marking the grand opening of the Pine Bluff facility.
The overall Saracen Casino Resort project represents the largest investment in tourism in the history of Arkansas.
The Annex, located at 3513 Market Street, is opened to the public less than four months after the Arkansas Racing Commission granted a gaming license to the Nation. Since the soft opening on Friday, Sept. 27, the Annex has had approximately 10,000 guests. The Casino Resort, located across the street, is scheduled to open June 2020.
The Annex features 300 popular, state-of-the-art slot machines, which have already paid several jackpots, including one in the amount of $12,500 to a local Pine Bluff woman. The Annex is adjacent to the Q Store, the Quapaw Nation’s newest convenience store and gas station.
While the opening is cause for celebration — and a source of excitement for the public — Quapaw leadership is most proud of the economic development it brings to the area. To date, nearly four hundred people have been hired for construction and more than 200 are employed at the Saracen Annex and Q Store. The staff is a diverse population: 72 percent are female, and 70 percent are African American, with the majority of all employees coming from within the city of Pine Bluff.
“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,” said Chairman Berrey. “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.”
An estimated 1,000 jobs will be generated throughout the construction phase. Quapaw Nation officials plan to ultimately employ 1,100 people permanently at the Saracen Casino Resort. Berrey said the Annex and Resort will cause a ripple effect throughout southeast Arkansas.
“The opening of the Annex and next summer’s opening of the Saracen Casino Resort will draw visitors from across Arkansas and surrounding states,” Berrey said. “As a result of this draw, we’ll see more businesses open and expand. These are aspects of a lively community, and we are happy to be a part of the renewal taking place here.”
The Saracen Annex is the Quapaw Nation’s most recent investment in the city. Over the last six months, it has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in city parks, the Jack Jones Juvenile Detention Center, the Jefferson County Department of Health and the Pine Bluff Aquatic Center.
About Quapaw Nation
The Quapaw Nation and the Downstream Development Authority operate two gaming facilities in Oklahoma, Quapaw Casino in Miami and Downstream Casino in Quapaw. The $350 million Saracen Casino Resort will include an 80,000-square foot gaming floor, 2,000+ slot machines and 50 gaming tables; a 300-room hotel with conference and banquet centers, an entertainment venue, and several restaurants, in addition to a safety/fire and EMS facility, daycare, and child learning center.