Industry continued to grow
In 2007, the National Indian Gaming Association reported that there were 423 Indian gaming establishments operated by 225 tribes in 28 states. These facilities provided 346,000 jobs and $11.2 billion in wages. As a result, tribes paid approximately $1.3 billion in taxes to federal, state and local governments.
In 2008, many new casinos were opened and existing operations were expanded. The following list speaks to the continuing success of Indian gaming in spite of the recent economic downturn.
The Poarch Creek Tribe continued work on their 80,000 square foot Wind Creek Casino. The casino is expected to open in January.
The biggest news from Arizona was the opening of Fire Rock Casino by the Navajo Nation. The Navajos have long rejected gaming, but have taken the plunge with this new venture. The Gila River Tribe opened Lone Butte Casino near Chandler, and began construction on their Wild Horse Pass facility near Phoenix. Construction also commenced on the Salt River Pima- Maricopa Tribe’s Salt River Casino.
The Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians opened their new Red Hawk Casino near Placerville. In Richmond, the Guidiville Band of Pomo Indians is awaiting federal approval to build an off-reservation casino on land at Point Molate. The decision will be made by President Obama’s Secretary of the Interior Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo.
The Ute Tribe held a grand opening of its 45,000 square foot Sky Ute Casino Resort and Conference Center near Pagosa Springs. Colorado voters also approved a referendum to expand gaming in Cripple Creek, Black Hawk and Central City.
The Mohegan Tribe completed its 45,000 square foot Casino of the Wind located next to its Casino of the Sky at Uncasville, and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe celebrated the opening of its new $700 million MGM Grand at Foxwoods.
The Seminole Nation added 104 gaming tables at their Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa. The largest slot machine jackpot in Florida history was won there this year, as Terese Moore hit the super-sized progressive jackpot on a Wheel of Fortune machine, bagging $2.5 million.
The Shoshone-Bannock Fort Hall Business Council unveiled plans to build two new casinos in the coming year. In spring 2008, the tribe broke ground on a new $100 million satellite casino at Blackfoot.
The 236,000 square foot Fire Keepers Casino near Battle Creek is scheduled for completion in summer 2009. The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians purchased the former Great Lakes Downs racetrack and has acquired an additional 233 acres in Fruitport Township. It is rumored that they are planning to build the largest casino resort in the state; however the tribe has not formally announced its plans.
The Red Lake Band of Chippewa broke ground on their new Seven Clans Casino, which will be relocated from its present location at the Red Lake Humanities Center.
The Quapaw Tribe celebrated the opening of their luxurious Downstream Casino Resort in Joplin.
The Shinnecock Indian Nation is searching for a suitable casino site in Suffolk County, Long Island. The Mashantucket Pequot Tribe is searching for a location in the Philadelphia area. The Mohegan Tribe opened their new $208 million, 300,000 square foot facility, Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.
The Eastern Band of Cherokees completed a feasibility study this summer to determine the potential revenues and environmental issues of building a new casino near the Tennessee state line.
The Creek Nation announced plans to build their 300,000 square foot River Spirit Casino in Tulsa. The Cherokee Nation pledged $270 million to expansion projects including their Catoosa Cherokee Casino and their West Siloam Springs Casino. The Chickasaw Nation opened their expanded WinStar Casino and Convention Center. The Muscogee Creek Nation is scheduled to complete its $200 million Creek Nation Casino expansion by year’s end. The Osage Nation is hard at work on a $14 million casino, truck stop and diner at Ponca City. The Quapaw Nation is working on a $200 million casino and hotel in Ottawa County.
The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe announced plans for a casino to be built on the shore of Lake Oahe in the central region of the state.
The Cowlitz Tribe received approval on amendments to its gaming ordinance and continues to press for permission to proceed with its plans to construct a giant casino complex near La Center. The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation broke ground on their flagship casino near Omak. The Snoqualmie Tribe celebrated the opening of their 170,000 square foot, $375 million Snoqualmie Casino, and the Chehalis Tribe opened its $100 million Great Wolf Lodge near Centralia. The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe was scheduled to open its $4 million casino west of Port Angeles around Christmas time. Washington tribes involved in expansion projects in 2008 include the Lummi Tribe, the Stillaguamish Tribe, the Tulalip Tribe and the S’kallam Tribe.
The Potawatomi unveiled plans for a multi-million dollar expansion of their Potawatomi Bingo Casino in Milwaukee, representing a $240 million dollar investment in the state of Wisconsin.
The Northern Arapaho Tribe celebrated the grand opening of their 45,000 square foot Wind River Casino in Riverton.