PINE BLUFF, Ark. — On Monday, Quapaw Nation Chairman John L. Berrey was joined by Pine Bluff Mayor Shirley Washington and Jefferson County Judge Gerald Robinson for a groundbreaking celebration of the Saracen Casino Resort.

Other special guests included Lt. Governor Tim Griffin, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, members of the state Legislature and the Arkansas Racing Commission.

“Downstream Development Authority of the Quapaw Nation is honored to have been selected to bring this outstanding facility to the area. Today marks the beginning of the Quapaw Nation’s return to Pine Bluff, and we are excited to be a key part of the continuing revitalization of the city,” Berrey said.

Alex Lieblong, chairman of the Arkansas Racing Commission, was on hand in support of the Saracen Casino Resort.

“A partnership with the Quapaw Nation is showing itself to be a great choice for Jefferson County,” Lieblong said. “The Racing Commission has worked to ensure the will of the people was respected in a timely manner. We were impressed with the professional manner in which the Quapaw handled the process. It was evident that Chairman Berrey and the Quapaw Nation had a good ground game here and earned the support of the community. I look forward to working with the Quapaw in the years ahead.”

In a show of statewide support, Lt. Governor Tim Griffin and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge also attended the groundbreaking of this monumental project.

“I am excited about the jobs and development Chairman Berrey and his team are bringing to not only Jefferson County, but our state. This is one of the largest economic development projects in Arkansas history. I will remain focused on making sure they’re successful in bringing a new era of economic revitalization to Southeast Arkansas.”

“The path for revitalization in Pine Bluff is clear,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “With the Quapaw Nation planting roots in Pine Bluff, this new endeavor with good-paying jobs will bolster economic development and breathe new life into Pine Bluff and southeast Arkansas.”

The Saracen Casino Resort is the Quapaw Nation’s first community development endeavor in Arkansas and is expected to create 1,100 jobs. The resort’s gaming floor will include more than 2,000 slot machines and 50 table games. More than a casino, the resort will boast a 300-room luxury hotel with restaurants and lounges, a spa, conference center, and museum and cultural center. The casino is scheduled for a June 2020 opening, with the hotel and entertainment venue opening in December 2020. This first phase of construction will include the Saracen Casino Annex, which is set to open in October. The annex will offer visitors access to 300 slot machines.

“The resort will also include a learning center, daycare, as well as a health clinic, and safety/fire and emergency medical services facilities will be featured on the site to help ensure guests’ and employees’ well-being,” Berrey said. “Our goal is to boost the local and state economy while investing in its residents by adding jobs and partnering with the city to enhance the quality of life.”

Today also marked the grand opening of the Saracen Q-Store, a 20,000-square foot convenience store and gas station. Earlier this week, first responders, EMS employees, teachers and construction personnel enjoyed breakfast and lunch — free of charge — at the facility, which is now open 24/7.

Located on 110 acres at Martha Mitchell Expressway and US 63-79, the Saracen Casino Resort is the culmination of Downstream Development Authority’s investment in Pine Bluff and Jefferson County.