After a 10-year effort was approved by the U.S. Department of Interior in 2015, construction on the $40 million Spokane Tribe Casino began a year later in November. Phase one of what will reportedly be a 10-year $400 million development is now complete and will open Monday evening at 7pm.
Located on 145 acres of ancestral land on U.S. Highway 2 in Airway Heights, Washington, the Spokane Tribe of Indians held a soft opening on Friday evening for local media, tribal officials and few others.
Local news station KREM2 reports that the tribe’s chairwoman, Carol Evans, said, “This is actually on our historical home land and this very land here, West Plains is where we fought one of our few wars in 1858, the Plains War. And so coming full circle we are back in our historical home land, opening a casino, it is a very historical and important day for our Spokane tribal people.”
The Spokane Tribe of Indians is steeped in history and nowhere is that more evident than inside the casino; from the carpet made to mimic salmon skin to the light fixtures which look like fishing baskets, everything has cultural significance.
The 38,000 square foot casino floor offers 450 slot machines, 12 table games, a casual dining restaurant and bar, a deli and gaming-floor bar. There is also a state-of-the-art HVAC filtration system which filters cigarette smoke out of the building and pumps fresh air from outside back inside.
Future plans for the 145-acre site reportedly include the addition of a hotel, restaurants, entertainment venues, shopping and a tribal cultural center, along with long-term plans to expand the casino.
Throughout the years, the tribe has faced opposition from leaders in the community with concerns regarding the casino’s proximity to Fairchild Air Force Base and the Kalispel Tribe, who operate the Northern Quest Resort and Casino located approximately two miles from Spokane tribe Casino.
The Spokane Tribe also own and operate the Two Rivers Casino located just north of Davenport and Chewelah Casino, located in Chewelah. The two casinos, built by the Spokane tribe nearly 30 years ago to pursue gaming for economic development, would soon face competition from the Coeur d’Alene Casino in Worley, Idaho and the Kalispel Tribe’s resort and casino, both sizeable properties.
In spite of the opposition, the Spokane tribe moved forward with construction.
Evans said, “I don’t think the Spokane tribal people have very thought that we would lose, we always knew we would prevail.” The tribal chairman added, “We just open our arms to everyone to come out, have a good time and just enjoy our new casino,” according to the news agency.