PINE BLUFF, Ark. — Construction on the 350 million dollar Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff is officially underway Monday.
“It’s really the beginning of some really great things,” Quapaw Nation Chairman, John Berrey said.
Hundreds watched as Berrey revealed the plans for Pine Bluff and the Saracen Casino Resort.
“My plan is to have the casino built before most people could build a house,” he said.
The expected grand opening is June 2020, only 10 months away.
LaJuan Watley, a Pine Bluff native, is here for the promised revival.
“I think because we went down, it gave us a drive to want to come back,” she said describing the economic struggles Pine Bluff has faced.
The new casino will house an 80,000 square foot gaming floor with 2,300 slot machines.
It also boasts a 300 room luxury hotel, convention center, restaurants and entertainment venue to bring in concerts.
“This is a game changer!” Arkansas Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin said at the groundbreaking.
He says this is something the area has been waiting for.
“They’re rightfully excited about the jobs and the opportunity that are going to follow this project here in the region,” he said.
More than a thousand people are employed through the construction phase and about 1,100 will be hired to run the casino resort in the coming months.
Those jobs range from dealers to hospitality managers and finance workers.
“Should they find themselves down on hard times, now they can find themselves employed and making good money, taking care of their loved ones,” Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said about the employment options.
The Saracen Q convenience store down the street just opened Sunday and by October will have a casino annex with 300 slot machines inside.
“I hope the entire city will benefit economically from the casino, that everything can piggy back on it!” Watley said.
A promising bet, Pine Bluff is ready for.
The full casino is expected to open in June of 2020.
The hotel and entertainment venue is expected by December 2020.
The chairman says he hopes to beat that timeline.