Cherokee Nation submits casino license application for Pope County operation

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 1,029 views 

Cherokee Nation Entertainment (CNE) on Wednesday (June 5) submitted an application to the Arkansas Racing Commission for the Pope County casino gaming license, along with plans for its project — Legends Resort & Casino Arkansas.

CNE’s proposed development plans include a more than $300 million investment in Pope County featuring a 50,000-square-foot casino with:

  • 1,200 slot machines
  • 32 table games
  • A poker room and sportsbook
  • A 200-room hotel with a resort pool and luxury spa
  • Numerous dining options ranging from grab-and-go to a sit-down steakhouse; and
  • A multipurpose space to accommodate meetings, conferences, concerts and special events.

The Cherokee Nation development will also include an outdoor music venue and a water park, along with an RV and dog park.

The development site is situated northeast of Russellville on land located just north of Interstate 40 between the Weir Road exit to the west and Bradley Cove Road exit to the east.

“For the past five years, we have been laying the groundwork for this one-of-a-kind, shovel-ready commercial casino resort and becoming engrained in the local community,” said Chuck Garrett, CEO of Cherokee Nation Entertainment. “We are honored to have garnered the required support of Pope County leaders, purchased 325 acres of land, and obtained a Large-Scale Development permit from the City of Russellville. With the application now submitted, we are eager to present our plans and vast experience to the Arkansas Racing Commission and earn the state’s final casino license.”

CNE estimates the project will have a $5 billion economic impact on the state of Arkansas over the first 10 years and create thousands of direct and indirect jobs. Legends Resort & Casino will also bring tax revenue to the state, the Arkansas Racing Commission, Russellville and Pope County.

Gulfside Casino Partnership announced last month its plans for a $405 million Pope County Casino development, which will include 300 hotel rooms, a convention center space with meeting rooms, a steakhouse restaurant, a casino lounge, a 24-hour cafe, an outdoor amphitheater, a spa and fitness center and a coffee and pastry shop.

“Our development is easily a year ahead of any other newly proposed casino project,” said Mark Fulton, president of Cherokee Nation Entertainment. “Once the casino license is awarded, we expect to commence the 18-month construction process after 60 to 90 days of permitting and pre-construction work. CNE is committed and eager to fulfill its obligations under the $38.8 million economic development agreement executed with Pope County. Since opening an office in Russellville nearly five years ago, the team has listened to the community, invested hours of volunteerism, and partnered with organizations to make an impact on the lives of Arkansans.”

CNE has engaged Legends Hospitality, a third-party hospitality consultant, to create “an unrivaled guest experience.” HBG Design Architects, one of the top hospitality and entertainment design firms in the country, has been hired to execute the project design. Little Rock’s CDI Contractors will serve as the project’s construction manager and HP Engineering, based in Rogers, is an engineering consultant.