On Thursday, the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California broke ground on its new casino in South Gardnerville, Nevada in Douglass County.

The casino will be adjacent to the tribe’s new $11.78 million Wa She Shu Travel Plaza on Highway 395 South on its reservation in Nevada, which the Washoe began construction on in May. The 6,000 square-feet facility will include a gas station and convenience store and is expected to open by March of 2016.

The construction of both facilities is an effort by the Washoe to improve the look of the highway and to generate revenue for the tribe. It will not only give travelers a place to stop for fuel and other necessities; it will provide a recreational option. Off-reservation Washoe tribal representative Mahlon Machado said, “On the travel plaza side, we hope it will generate traffic for us and the existing businesses,” and, “We hope they see the facilities and they stop.”

The undertaking is a joint effort between the Washoe and the Poarch Creek Indians of Alabama. The Washoe hope that the experience the Poarch Creek bring to the table running similar businesses will make the business venture a successful one. Many tribes and business models were examined by the Washoe in order to determine which would best help them maximize their revenue. The casino will be built, operated and fully-funded at the expense of the Alabama-based Poarch Band and rent and taxes will be paid to the Washoe by the Poarch Creeks, according to The Record-Courier. According to the report, “Washoe has the option at any time to purchase the casino but is projected to take possession of it in 17 years if the purchase option has not been executed before then.”

The travel plaza will be constructed with combined federal and state funds in addition to a loan, and although gaming portion plans have yet to be finalized, it could include up to 300 machines. Machado anticipates the project to be completed in a year or so, and once finished he anticipates the casino will provide approximately 20 travel plaza jobs and 80 casino positions.

The tribal casino will be Carson Valley’s fourth largest gaming property. There are currently three casinos in Douglass County including the Carson Valley Inn, Sharkey’s Nugget and the Topaz Lodge and Casino.

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