A recent study indicates that Legends Resort and Casino could make a substantial economic impact on Russellville, Arkansas, to the tune of more than $3.15 billion over 10 years. That’s a “conservative” estimate, says Cherokee Nation Businesses (CNB), the Tribal enterprise responsible for the proposed project with partner Legends — a company founded in 2008 through a joint venture between Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. Legends boasts a successful resume; previous partners include The University of Arkansas, AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Ultimate Fighting Championship and Live Nation amphitheaters.
CNB and Legends announced their partnership in June 2019 to develop the $225 million Legends Resort & Casino Arkansas. The parties are still awaiting the lift of a temporary restraining order on the Arkansas Racing Commission to grant a gaming license for Pope County, Arkansas.
Read more about the temporary restraining order here: Decision on Final Commercial Casino License in Arkansas Delayed by Temporary Restraining Order
If CNB ultimately receives the grenelight from the Commission, this would mark its first casino outside of Oklahoma.
According to the study’s projections, year one of Legend Resort’s operations in Russellville, Arkansas would realize 1,750 jobs with a $43.3 million employee payroll. Estimates show that the first decade would see 21,000 jobs filled, and $530 million paid out to employees.
“In forming our plans for Legends Resort and Casino, we turned to a network of experts to help us understand how this project would impact the region’s economy,” CNB CEO Chuck Garrett said of Economic Impact Group (EIG), which conducted the study. Dr. Russell Evans, executive director of the Economic Research and Policy Institute at Oklahoma City University, and EIG cofounder, presented the projections.
To calculate these findings, EIG utilized Cherokee Nation impact data sets from six Oklahoma counties, comparing Muskogee and Washington Counties to Pope County. According to estimates, Pope County would collect $4.3 million in taxes in year one, and $5.8 million in the 10th year — meaning tax collections over a decade would reach $52.3 million.
CNB calculates its purchases from vendors would total $296 million over its first decade.
CNB will pay Pope County a $38.8 million economic development fee, in addition to an annual $2 million grant to the county for community development. Combined local tax collections, economic development fees and community grant support would total $111 million.