In progress since last year November, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe’s $21.1 million Gray Wolf Peak Casino’s new facility opened its doors on Tuesday to between 100 and 200 waiting gamblers.
The new 34,000 square foot facility located near the small town of Evaro in Missoula County replaces the original Gray Wolf Casino that the tribe opened on U.S. Highway 93 a decade ago. The existing blue building, which closed its doors to the public for good on Monday, is slated for demolition, the space to be used for additional parking.
The new facility’s walls and ceilings are outfitted with rock work and timber sourced from around the Flathead Indian Reservation. There are now more than 307 gaming machines, a considerable increase from the old casino’s 112, at the casino that is operated by the tribe through S&K Gaming. It is one of the tribe’s four enterprises in Montana, which include the KwaTaqNuk Resort in Polson, and the Big Arm Grill and Marina, which opened in June 2015 and is situated on the shores of Flathead Lake.
Commenting on the opening was Tribal Chairman Vernon Finley who said, “It is important to the CSKT Tribe to continue to strengthen the economy of Western Montana and provide job opportunities for our communities,” according to the Valley Journal. A member of the S&K Gaming sales and marketing team, Pete White, said about 120 new jobs are being created by the new casino, up from the 35 who were employed at the original casino.
Announced two years ago, the initial plans for the new structure included a hotel, however, have been altered to a potential “phase II option,” according to S&K Gaming CEO Brian Miller, as reported by the Missoulian. The plans now indicate that the hotel would be placed on top of the new casino and that it would happen in the next 2 ½ years, according to Allen Sloan, chairman of S&K Gaming. Sloan said that they were just getting started and “There’s much more to come,” as reported by the news agency.
In addition to the casino, there is a restaurant and lounge, a deli-style food bar, and a small gift shop. Soon a large sign of a howling wolf will also be added to the property.
In other Montana news, in Browning, the Blackfeet Nation has merged its hotel and casino operations resulting in a new name for the adjoining properties, Glacier Peaks Hotel and Casino.