Arkansas Casinos to Link Progressive Slot Machines With Other States

Arkansas casinos have been cleared to link progressive slot machines to networks that expand into other gaming states.

Arkansas casino progressive slot Saracen
Arkansas casino progressive slot Saracen
A guest at Saracen Casino Resort shows off a free play voucher next to a slot machine. Arkansas casinos are being allowed to place progressive slots on their gaming floors that link prize pools with machines located in other states. (Image: Saracen Casino Resort)

Progressive slot machines are the terminals that are typically responsible for jackpot headlines. With a progressive, a small portion of each bet played is set aside for a grand jackpot prize, which delivers life-changing wins on the regular.

The Arkansas Racing Commission this week approved a request from the Saracen Casino in Pine Bluff to link its IGT-manufactured slot machines with the company’s slots operations in Nevada, New Jersey, Louisiana, and South Dakota.

Our machines quite literally will be linked to the Las Vegas Strip,” Carlton Saffa, chief market officer for Saracen, told the gaming commission this week.

The progressive game’s biggest jackpot can usually only be won by playing near-max bets on the terminal. The gaming manufacturer or distributor handles the progressive jackpot funds and distributes the winnings when the jackpot hits.

Jumping Jackpots

Arkansans authorized four commercial casinos through a ballot referendum during the November 2018 election. The question amended the Arkansas Constitution to allow a casino each in the counties of Jefferson, Crittenden, Garland, and Pope.

To date, the largest slot jackpot in Arkansas history was a $131,000 win hit at Saracen. While that’s a considerable amount of cash, it pales in comparison with the amounts progressives award.

IGT says it currently has 11 progressive jackpots of $1 million or more operating in the US. The largest is a more than $12.9 million Megabucks prize.

Saracen plans to first bring in IGT “Wheel of Fortune” progressives to its casino. “Wheel” slots remain one of the most popular titles in the US gaming industry. Saffa says three different “Wheel” progressives will feature minimum jackpots of $200,000, $500,000, and $1 million. The minimum bet to qualify for the $1 million progressive jackpot will be $5 a spin.

The casino rules that the Arkansas Racing Commission finalized after the constitutional amendment allowed for the casinos to link progressives with other commercial gaming states. But the casinos must first apply and receive authorization from the state before placing the pooled electronic terminals on their gaming floors.

Pope Casino Latest

Three of Arkansas’ four casinos are up and running — Saracen, Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs, and Southland Casino in West Memphis. The fourth and only remaining casino opportunity is earmarked for Pope County.

After years of legal contention, the Cherokee Nation Businesses, the economic arm of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, has been determined the rightful recipient of the Pope gaming license. The Cherokees have partnered with Legends Hospitality, a sports-focused concessions and hospitality firm partially controlled by Dallas Cowboys billionaire owner Jerry Jones, to build a $225 million property called Legends Resort & Casino in Russellville.

Expected to break ground before the end of the year, Legends Resort & Casino is to have a gaming space measuring about 50,000 square feet with roughly 1,200 slot machines and 32 table games. A sportsbook, 200-room hotel, meeting and conference center, and a spa are also in the works.

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