Gulfside Casino Partnership, the group behind the planned River Valley Casino Resort just outside Russellville, announced Thursday night that Nabholz of Conway and AnderCorp of Gulfport, Miss., would partner on the $254 million venture scheduled to open in 2022 pending a legal challenge.
The announcement was made at a meeting of the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce. Nabholz will team with AnderCorp’s Roy Anderson, who has led the construction of more than 20 major gaming and hospitality projects including Gulfside’s Island View Casino Resort in Gulfport.
Gulfside plans to build, in three stages, a $254 million casino and resort with 1,900 slot machines, 90 table games and 600 hotel rooms located just north of Interstate 40 off exit 84. But it has at least one more legal hurdle to clear from the Cherokee Nation, which also had bid for the Pope County casino license.
The Cherokee proposal would see the construction of the $225 million Legends Resort and Casino in partnership with Legends, the global hospitality group co-founded by Arkansan and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and the late George Steinbrenner, owner of the New York Yankees.
Last year, the Arkansas Racing Commission chose Gulfside’s proposal, and the Cherokees filed suit claiming that Gulfside filed a legally insufficient application for the Pope County casino license.
Arkansas voters approved in 2018 a constitutional amendment to allow four casinos in the state. The first two casinos were opened in 2019 at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs and Southland Gaming and Racing in West Memphis. The other two casino licenses were designated for Jefferson and Pope counties. Saracen Casino Resort opened last year in Pine Bluff.
The Cherokee casino plan for Russellville entails 1,100 slot machines, 32 table games and 200 hotel rooms near Russellville off Hob Nob Road on roughly the same site as the Gulfside project.
Meanwhile, Gulfside is moving forward with its plans.
“The Nabholz team is looking forward to working with AnderCorp, as well as local subcontractors and vendors, to help build this economic engine for our state,” incoming Nabholz CEO Jake Nabholz said in a statement. “Our firm has fostered a strong relationship with AnderCorp’s president and CEO, Roy Anderson III, over the past two decades, and we anticipate a successful project because of our similar attributes and cultures.”
Plans for River Valley Casino Resort entail 500 hotel rooms; 80,000 square feet of gaming space; upscale dining options and “luxurious outdoor spaces.” Gulfside officials estimate the project will support 1,500 new jobs, carry a $60.5 million payroll and provide $29.5 million in annual gaming tax revenue.