The Arkansas Racing Commission authorized on Monday Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff to begin offering sports betting, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.
Sports betting is set to begin today at 8 am local time at Saracen Casino Annex. The gaming facility soft-launched at 6 pm on Friday, four days prior today’s planned grand opening.
Saracen Casino Annex occupies 15,000 square feet of space and is connected to the Saracen Q Store, the site of the former Southern Edge Truck Stop. The facility features 300 slot machines.
The casino annex will remain open while the main Saracen Casino Resort is under development. The Arkansas Racing Commission granted this past June a license to Oklahoma-based Quapaw Tribe to build and operate a casino in Jefferson County.
The Friday launch of the temporary facility marked the opening of Arkansas’ third Las Vegas-style gambling venue under the state’s amended gambling law. Last year, state voters approved the legalization of casino gambling and the opening of four full-fledged casinos – two at two existing racetracks and the others in Pope and Jefferson Counties.
Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort and Southland Casino Racing debuted their casino floors this past April. Both properties previously operated as racetracks and featured “electronic games of skill.”
As pointed out by Quapaw Tribe officials, Saracen Casino Annex in Pine Bluff is only a preview of what the tribe’s Arkansas casino expansion plans include. The tribe’s Downstream Development Authority is currently building the main Saracen Casino Resort that will feature an 80,000-square-foot casino with 2,000 slot machines and a 13-floor, 300-room hotel tower, among other facilities. The main resort is slated to open doors by the end of 2020.
Sports Betting at Saracen Casino Annex
Saracen Casino Resort officials said Monday that they will debut a “sample sportsbook” at the casino annex. The betting facility will feature betting kiosks that will allow smaller bets of up to $500 to be placed by gambling customers.
Under the betting proposal presented by the Quapaw Tribe to the Arkansas Racing Commission, the “sample sportsbook, or ‘limited betting’ option, will be a sports betting introduction to the local market and provide an introduction for the full-scale sportsbook that will be located at the Saracen Casino Resort.”
At first, the wagering facility will offer betting on football, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, soccer, tennis, golf, auto racing, and boxing.
Saracen Casino Resort has selected gambling technology provider IGT as its official sports betting partner. IGT, through its Play Shot platform, will power the wagering operation at the property’s sports gambling facility.
Under Amendment 100, the constitutional amendment approved by Arkansas voters during last November’s ballot, the state’s casinos are also allowed to operate sports betting.
Aside from Saracen Casino Annex, which will debut athletic gambling later today, Oaklawn is Arkansas’ other operational casino to have gone live with a betting service. The Hot Springs-based property accepted its first sports bet on July 1, just three months after it launched its casino floor.
The Oaklawn sportsbook, which is powered by SBTech, handled $416,159.52 in bets in July and $778,248.82 in August, according to data provided by the Arkansas Racing Commission. Property officials said that the figures reported were in line with their expectations.
As for Saracen Casino Resort officials’ projections, spokesperson Carlton Saffa told local media that the sports betting facility is one more gambling option available and that they will see how it will perform.