Scheduled to open in the spring of 2017, the $500 million Ilani Casino Resort being developed by the Cowlitz and Mohegan tribes near the town of La Center, Washington, recently announced two major hires.

According to The Columbian, two executives, who together possess more than ten years of casino experience, will fill the positions of vice president of gaming and human resources. Al Muma will serve as the casino’s vice president of human resources and will oversee hiring for the casino and the structuring of its internal infrastructure. Jeffrey Walker will take on the position of vice president of gaming and will manage gaming at the casino, according to the news agency.

In a statement, Ilani’s general manager and president, Kara Fox-LaRose, said, “It is critical to the success of Ilani that we hire the best casino and gaming professionals. Both Al and Jeff have worked at some of the top properties in the country,” as reported by the news agency. Muma was previously employed at Little River Casino in Michigan, Snoqualmie Casino in Snoqualmie, and at Treasure Island Resort & Casino in Minnesota. Walker was employed at Mohegan Sun Pocono in Pennsylvania as vice president of table games.

At the beginning of this year, the Cowlitz tribe broke ground for Ilani just off of Interstate 5 in North Clark County and a grand opening has been scheduled for April 17, 2017. Plans for the casino include at least 100,000 square feet of gaming that will house 2,500 slots and 80 tables, 15 restaurants, retail outlets and bars, and anticipates employing hundreds of people.

Ilani is located on 152 acres of land that the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) placed in trust after a lengthy 10-year review process. The acquisition was fought by casino opponents, however, on July 29 the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a major decision, sided with the BIA. Language contained in the 2009 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar was used as a determinant. The judge in the case upheld a lower court decision and found that in 1934 the tribe was “under federal jurisdiction” and therefore entitled to have land taken into trust as a reservation.

After losing the federal appeal, the Confederated Tribes Of The Grand Ronde Community in neighboring Oregon revealed that it plans to take its case opposing the opening of the casino to the United States Supreme Court. A formal request has yet to be filed.

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