It’s been a dream since the 90s when the Puyallup Tribe tested the gaming waters in Tacoma, Washington with its Emerald Queen Riverboat. That vision is now becoming a reality as the floating casino is being replaced with the soon to be opened $370 million land-based, Emerald Queen Casino, located along I-5 on in the city situated on banks of Puget Sound.

After being purchased by the tribe in 1996, the original Emerald Queen riverboat made its way from the Mississippi River, through the Panama Canal and eventually to the Port of Tacoma. There, it served gamblers until it was closed in 2005 after in 2004 then-Governor Gary Locke signed off on an agreement to allow the Tribe to relocate the casino to the city of Fife, which is contained within the Puyallup Indian Reservation.

Bigger and better:

Frank Wright is the new casino’s general manager and was part of the tribe’s effort to bring gaming to the city over two decades ago, and who even back then had an eye on something bigger.

Local television station Q13 Fox News reports that Wright said…

“This is where I dreamed it would be one day, that the tribe would make the investment and flourish.”

The giant new landmark on I-5 in Tacoma that will be home to one of Washington state’s biggest casinos will also be a windfall for the community according to the tribe, with the creation of hundreds of jobs and millions for the local economy.

According to Wright, even the bathrooms in the new 310,000 square foot casino are worthy of bragging rights…

“You walk into a restroom and there’s probably more stalls then you’ll find at any casino in the country, because we want to make sure we’re taking care of every detail.”

Keeping it local:

The tribe didn’t have the capital to realize a large casino and rejected outside financing from casino management companies, mostly based in Nevada and Canada, that wanted 40 percent of earnings. It instead opted to take its time, ensuring that the profits from the casino go back into the local economy.

Wright said this about the coming casino…

“You’re in Tacoma, Washington, and you roll into here. This is Vegas man.”

Casino amenities:

Slated to open in December, the large casino will reportedly span both East 29th and East R streets and will include a 110,000-square-foot casino, along with an area bar & buffet and a 24-hour cafe, deli and sports bar with a view of Mount Rainier, and one that will overlook downtown Tacoma and Puget Sound, a 2,000-seat, 21,000-square-foot events center and two parking garages with a total of 1,370 stalls.

Phase III:

Plans for a new $65 million attached hotel, to be located east of the casino, includes a 3.5 to 4-star facility with 150-200 rooms, a rooftop restaurant, spa and additional conference rooms. The new hotel is expected to open by December 2020.

The formal agreement in 2004 amended the state-tribal gaming compact to allow the tribe to operate a casino at the Fife site, and ultimately won approval from the federal Interior Department.