An artist's rendering promotes a proposed "Saracen Casino Resort" in Arkansas. Saracen was a Quapaw leader who is buried in Pine Bluff, where the tribe hopes to build a casino. Image: Quapaw Nation

Quapaw Nation moves forward with casino bid after victory at polls

The Quapaw Nation is wasting little time preparing for a gaming bid in Arkansas.

Chairman John Berrey told The Arkansas Times that the tribe plans to apply for a casino license in Jefferson County after Issue 4 was approved by 54 percent of voters on Tuesday. If all goes well, a groundbreaking could take place next summer and a facility could be open by 2020.

"We're about building communities," Berrey told The Times. "Our goal is to make it a better place for people to live."

The Cherokee Nation also was a backer of Driving Arkansas Forward campaign. The tribe could apply for a casino license in Pope County, though the process there requires a little more work, according to news reports.

Overall, the Cherokee Nation and the Quapaw Nation spent nearly $6 million on the effort. They had to gather enough signatures to put Issue 4 on the November 6 ballot and promote the initiative before the election.

Both tribes have plenty of experience in gaming. The Cherokee Nation operates nine Indian gaming facilities in neighboring Oklahoma, including one near the Arkansas border.

The Quapaw Nation operates two casinos in Oklahoma, including one whose property reaches into Kansas and Missouri. The tribe also owns land in Arkansas and once had a reservation there.

Chief Saracen, also known as Sarasen, was laid to rest in the city of Pine Bluff in Jefferson County in 1832. An artist's rendering being circulated by the tribe promotes the "Saracen Casino Resort" in honor of his legacy.

Two non-Indian entities also donated to the campaign. Issue 4 authorizes casino-style gaming at an existing dog track and at an existing horse track in Arkansas.

Read More on the Story
Quapaw Tribe points to early 2020 opening for Pine Bluff casino (The Arkansas Times November 8, 2018)
Questions remain about Arkansas casinos (The Associated Press November 8, 2018)
Casinos OK'd for PB, other areas of state (The Pine Bluff Commercial November 7, 2018)

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