In Washington, the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community has begun the first phase of a $20 million renovation and expansion project on its Swinomish Casino And Lodge that will see the Skagit County venue debut a 18,000 sq ft gaming room while transforming its buffet into an around-the-clock cafe and food court.

According to a report from the Skagit Valley Herald newspaper, the development project, which is expected to be complete within 15 months, will moreover see the Swinomish Casino And Lodge sacrifice its bingo operation with the space turned into a break room and storage space.

“We started here 31 years ago,” Jumada Schwinden, Marketing Director for the Swinomish Casino And Lodge, told the newspaper in explaining the need for more employee space. “When I first started here we were at around 100 team members. Now we’re at around 500 team members.”

Brock Hochsprung, Co-General Manager for the Swinomish Casino And Lodge, revealed that the renovation of the former bingo hall space is due to be finished by the start of 2017 after which the tribe intends to start work expanding the facility’s casino floor and adding more slots and other gaming opportunities. He declared that a third phase will then concentrate on remodeling the buffet and conducting behind-the-scenes improvements such as an upgrade on the kitchen facilities.

The Skagit Valley Herald reported that the Swinomish Casino And Lodge is no stranger to renovation as the venue some 74 miles north of Seattle added a 98-room lodge and conference center in 2012 before acquiring the Swinomish Golf Links a year later.

Schwinden told the newspaper that employees of the closing bingo hall are to be transferred to other casino duties while Hochsprung stated that the Swinomish Casino And Lodge will make additional hires following the completion of the renovations although he was unable to give an exact number.

“There will be construction employment, food and beverage amenity workers,” Hochsprung told the Skagit Valley Herald. “If we drive additional guests here, we will need more team members for guest service, facilities and stuff like that.”

Schwinden moreover explained that the addition of the lodge venue over four years ago has led to the Swinomish Casino And Lodge recording a significant increase in guests, especially those from outside of the surrounding communities.

“We definitely have seen an increase in our patronage from Seattle and Vancouver,” said Schwinden. “It’s good for not just the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community but the whole area.”