Despite a poor United States economy that is causing trepidation and layoffs at the large gambling companies, tribal gambling concerns continue to expand. Not only do the Indian gaming locations benefit the various tribes that sponsor them, the casinos also benefit the surrounding areas with the creation of many new jobs and increasing tourism. Several tribes have new casino resorts opening or about to open in Wyoming, Oklahoma, Alabama, Arizona and California.
It’s no wonder the proliferation of tribal gaming businesses considering the huge profits for the tribes involved. According to a consulting firm that specializes in tribal casino management and financing, Native Nations, tribal casino revenues have almost doubled in the past two years with a total revenue of close to $2 billion dollars. This revenue has been generated by only 415 tribal casinos throughout the United States.
Northern Arapaho Tribe in Wyoming
The Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming already three casinos with two belonging to the Northern Arapaho. Those two casinos brought in $4 million dollars in revenue for the tribe last year. The new casino set to open on May 1 is expected to boost that total to at least $5 million for 2008 with even more revenues expected next year.
The new Wind River Casino will have 750 slot machines and 8 table games along with a restaurant and gift shop. There will also be a nonsmoking room with 70 slot machines available. The casino is in the process of setting up bus service to bring in customers from as far away as Cheyenne and Billings.
Quapaw Tribe in Oklahoma
A ceremony honoring the construction workers was held to memorialize the placing of the final beam at the top of the new hotel portion of the Downstream Casino Resort. Construction workers signed the beam before it was placed atop the hotel. At the ceremony the Quapaw Tribe’s business committee chairman said “I really want to thank you guys with the hard hats for honoring my elders”.
The new casino and hotel is being built just off Interstate 44 at a point where the three states of Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas meet. The $301 million dollar project was referred to as the “largest construction project in the state [of Oklahoma] right now” by John Snyder of the Manhattan Construction Co. The casino is due to open on July 5, while the 12-story hotel is expected to open in the fall.
Because of the expected increase in traffic from the casino, a two-lane roundabout is being built off the Interstate in order to handle the load. More than a million dollars is being spent on the road project that is being designed to handle traffic loads of 15,000 vehicles daily. The Missouri Department of Transportation collaborated with the tribe on this project while the tribe is picking up the tab for the work.
Creek Tribe in Alabama
Another ceremony was observed by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians in Atmore, Alabama as they held a Topping Out Celebration for reaching the highest point of construction on the new Wind Creek Casino and Hotel. The Creek Tribal Chairman Buford L. Rolin spoke at the ceremony about the positive impact of Wind Creek on the tribe, the town and the state of Alabama.
“This is the Tribe’s most ambitious endeavor to date,” Rolin expounded. “As a tourist destination, Wind Creek will have an extremely positive economic impact on southwest Alabama and our entire state’s economy through taxes, jobs and ancillary businesses that will be supported by a new growing tourist industry.”
The first part of the project is the casino itself which is slated to open its doors in December of this year. The hotel is scheduled to open in the spring of 2009. The casino will boast 1,600 electronic bingo games that will be able to be accessed both within and without the hotel. The facility will directly provide over 900 jobs just within the casino and hotel.
Navajo Nation in Arizona
The Navajo Nation just signed the loan that will help build its first tribal casino. For ten years, the Navajo people have resisted the temptation to jump on the tribal gambling bandwagon but they are now through watching other tribes prosper. Construction will begin shortly at the Churchrock, Arizona site and the casino is expected to open in October of this year.
The construction itself is a joint venture of two companies. The Killian Group has been in the construction business for more than three generations and has a long history of participation in resort and hotel projects, including the Palace Casino Resort. “The Killian Group appreciates the opportunity to take part in such a historical moment in Navajo history,” said Killian’s VP of Operations, Ron Barrett.
The other half of the partnership is an American Indian-owned construction company, Kennedy Wendel. The company’s president, Adam Kennedy, is a member of the Seneca Nation. He has specialized for more than 20 years in building in Indian country with an all Native American team of workers. The joint venture is expected to offer “the experience and cultural sensitivity necessary to make this project successful,” said Bob Winter, the interim CEO of Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise.
Agua Caliente Tribe in California
In California, the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa held an invitation-only party to celebrate Indian culture in general and a pivotal moment in tribal history. The $300 million dollar resort features an upscale 16-story hotel, making it the tallest hotel in the area.
The hotel will boast 340 rooms that will epitomize luxury and decadence for the valley. Rob Donnels, executive director of construction, says, “This is a top-of-the-line, high-end product that will be on the scale of any major, Las Vegas-styled project on the West Coast. This is a hotel that has real ‘wow’ factor.” The hope is that it will make the Coachella Valley an attractive alternative to budget-conscious travelers and keep Californians spending their entertainment dollars closer to home.