Less than 100 days after the Arkansas Racing Commission granted the Quapaw Nation a license to operate a gambling facility in Jefferson County, the Saracen Casino Annex opened its door, four days ahead of schedule.

Casino officials had planned an October 1 ribbon cutting celebration at the annex, located at what was formerly the Southern Edge Truck Stop but is now called the Q Store but decided to give residents and others an advance look at the 15,000 square foot facility.

The 15,000 square foot annex, which created an estimated 400 construction jobs and currently employs more than 200 people, features 300 state-of-the-art slot machines and a full bar, and is open 24-hours a day.

While the annex is packing in guests every day, work on the Saracen Casino and Resort nearby continues. The $350 million development on 3435 acres will be the largest investment in tourism in the history of the state. There will be an 80,000 square foot gaming floor featuring 2,300 slot machines, including the 300 at the annex, as well as 50 table games. The 13-story resort hotel will feature 300 rooms, a conference center, entertainment venue, restaurants and lounges, as well as space for public safety, fire and emergency medical personnel.

In a previous interview, John Berrey, chairman of the Quapaw Nation said that they are proud of the economic development that is being brought to the area.

“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,” Berrey said. “This begins with investing in the individuals who live here. Gainful employment benefits the employee, but it also transform’s that individual’s household and allows him or her to invest in local businesses and grow the local economy.”

When completed, the casino resort will employ more than 1,000 people. The casino is expected to open in June and Berrey said it 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,” he 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.”