In Oklahoma, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation will unveil the $365 million expansion to its River Spirit Casino Resort in Tulsa tomorrow with the property now set to offer 30,000 sq ft of convention space, an upscale spa and a 2,500-seat concert venue.
According to a report from the Tulsa World newspaper, the expansion has also seen the Tulsa County development add a 27-story glass tower overlooking the Arkansas River featuring a 483-room hotel with a tropical theme along with a new 50,000 sq ft Margaritaville-themed casino complete with a volcano that erupts “lava” into a giant blender.
“Tulsa doesn’t know what’s about to hit it,” Pat Crofts, Chief Executive Officer for operator Muscogee (Creek) Nation Casinos, told the newspaper. “I mean, this is going to be big; really big.”
Crofts revealed that the two-year construction project put more than 2,500 people to work while 1,200 new jobs are to be created indirectly throughout the metropolitan Tulsa area to pump an estimated $135.1 million a year into the local economy.
“It’s a game-changer,” Crofts told the Tulsa World. “For the tribe, for the city [and] for the whole Tulsa area. I think when people see it, they will realize that.”
First announced three years ago, Crofts declared that the finished development will moreover require an additional 1,000 permanent members of staff while any profits are to go to the tribe’s “permanent fund” with interest funding the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s health care, education, culture and welfare initiatives.
“It will really lift the spirit of the nation and the people,” James Floyd, a Principal Chief for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, told the newspaper. “It’s their money [and] their property. They are the ultimate investors.”
The opening paradoxically comes as George Tiger, a Principal Chief for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, revealed that the tribe is facing a shortfall of more than $18 million from the gaming portion of its 2016 budget. Currently running for a second four-year term with a primary election scheduled for September 19, the official explained that tribal numbers have recently grown by 13% to 79,520 members while the “permanent fund” has jumped by 38% to $308 million.
However, Tiger stated that the larger population has meant greater demand for services, which have been exacerbated by rising costs and inflation, while the tribe is spending only $1 per citizen for direct services and programs with comparably-sized groups paying $5 per head.
“I hope you take this seriously,” Tiger told an emergency meeting of the tribe’s National Council late last week. “This is very important. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves as a cabinet and work with you.”
Tiger proclaimed that the majority of the tribe’s services are paid utilizing its gaming revenues while a new budget must be approved before the federal fiscal year ends on September 30.
“There have been budget overages from the gaming revenues since 2008,” said Tiger. “Last year we were fortunate enough to have carryover to bridge the gap in the budget. We don’t have that this year.”