800 more to hire on as Saracen Casino Resort eyes the finish line
Saracen Casino Resort
Saracen Casino Resort will create approximately 800 new jobs in the next few weeks as it prepares for an upcoming grand opening in early October.
“The heart and soul of the resort property will be its team members, about 1,200 in all,” said John L. Berrey, the outgoing chairman of the Quapaw Nation, developers/owners of the upscale resort. “Of the entire development process – years of planning, building, the hard work, numerous challenges and all the excitement – these 1,200 jobs and the lives they impact are what mean the most to me. It really tugs at my heart.”
A Hiring Spree
There have been about 300 jobs in place since last October when the nearby Saracen Annex and Q-Store opened on the east side of Pine Bluff just off of U.S. Highway 65-B across from the Pines Mall. Additionally, more than 50 supervisor- and manager-level team members were recently added to prepare the various departments and training programs ahead of the resort’s opening.
Of the 800 new positions, most will require a pre-opening paid training period of one to two weeks, with some positions needing a 30-day paid training period. That means these 800 new jobs must fill very soon – and quickly. Never a simple task, but especially challenging under coronavirus-pandemic conditions, said Saracen’s acting Human Resources Director Brad Stone.
“It’s an added set of problems to solve, because we are committed to a strict set of COVID-19 safety protocols – social distancing, masks, sanitation, temperature checks, and so on. Meanwhile, we need to conduct hundreds of job interviews and, soon, start the training programs,” Stone said. “Thankfully we are on pace, and there are plenty of quality applicants to work with.” Stone and about 10 other acting directors for Saracen Casino Resort, are the permanent department directors and leadership team at the Quapaw Nation’s Downstream Casino Resort in northeast Oklahoma, near Joplin, Mo.
Good Jobs, Benefits; Great Working Environment
“Staffing a large-scale gaming resort could be compared to staffing the various departments of a small city government,” Stone said. “There are almost 200 job titles. Everything from the blackjack dealers and slot machine attendants, to a 90-person security team, accountants, cashiers, surveillance specialists, custodians, electricians and mechanical engineers.”
The Food & Beverage Department alone – responsible for six restaurants and three bars/lounges – requires almost 400 team members. The casino will also need team members for groundskeeper and parking attendant positions, a high-skill information technology department and a marketing department.
“And when we open the hotel (projected for 2021), that’s another list of positions we’ll need to fill. Probably an additional 70 to 90 people,” Stone said.
Chairman Berrey said the key to success in the casino-resort industry is a big smile and cheerful attitude.
“It’s the hospitality industry, and it’s about making every guest feel like he or she is the most important guest in the building that day,” Berrey said. “These are good jobs with good pay and benefits. Also they are the kinds of jobs that make you feel good about what you’re doing by treating every customer like a VIP.”
Jani Cummings, the general manager of Downstream Casino Resort in northeast Oklahoma and a 35-year veteran of the casino industry, is recruiting nationally for other seasoned casino professionals to form Saracen’s leadership team. The majority of new Saracen team members will rely on the training programs and the experience of that leadership team to prepare them for providing the quality of service that is expected.
“Because most of the people around here have never worked in a hospitality environment such as this,” Cummings said. “Arkansas has not seen anything like Saracen Casino Resort – unless you have visited us at Downstream.”
About Quapaw Nation and Saracen Casino Resort
The Quapaw Nation and its development operations own two gaming facilities in northeast Oklahoma: Quapaw Casino in Miami, and Downstream Casino Resort in Quapaw. The Nation’s $350 million Saracen Casino Resort will be its only casino outside of Oklahoma. Saracen will include an 80,000-square foot gaming floor with 2,000+ slot machines and 31 gaming tables; a 300-room hotel in phase II, with conference and banquet centers, an entertainment venue, and several restaurants, in addition to a safety/fire and EMS facility, daycare, and child learning center.
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