“This will be our first hotel,” Mike Finley, chairman of the Colville Business Council, said. The Confederated Colville Tribes own three small casinos but no hotels. Surface preparation and some excavation for the site of the new Omak Casino Resort will begin about April 15, so cars can reach the location and people can attend the ground breaking projected for early May. The anticipated opening is about 12 months later.
Randy Williams is Director of Corporate Gaming for the tribes and he outlined details of the complex. “It’s a $43 million project. It includes a 57,000-square-foot casino and an 80-room hotel. The hotel will be between a three- and four-star hotel, so it’s upscale and will be nice. We’ll have 500 machines in this casino plus table games, two lounges and two restaurants. It will create about 200 jobs in both the casino and hotel.”
The casino/hotel will be located on reservation property south of the town of Omak, Washington. The population is quite low, but it’s only about 45 miles from the Canadian border. “We’re expecting to get a large pool from Canada, as we do now,” Finley said. “We expect some will stay longer and spend more of their disposable income as we’ll have a hotel.”
Omak Casino Resort will also be the first destination resort in Okanogan County and is expected to be an economic boon to the region as it will attract conferences.
The casino portion will be twice the size of the tribes’ Mill Bay Casino located on a trust parcel near Lake Chelan. It will also replace the tribes’ Okanogan Bingo Casino. The new casino is expected to largely employ tribal members, Finley commented.
Taylor-Woodstone Construction will oversee development; the Bloomington, Minnesota-based company has worked with a number of tribes on other casino projects, plus the huge Palazzo Casino Resort in Las Vegas, among others.
The Colville Tribal Federal Corporation is fully finnacing the project. “They’re the sole signer on the loan, and it’s the first loan the Colville Tribe has not had to guarantee. The tribes’ commitment to business development certainly has exhibited itself over the past few years.”
This area is rich in cultural history. Five years ago, ground was being broken for a $24 million casino also near Omak, but when artifacts and human remains were discovered, the project was immediately shut down. “We ordered a full archeological excavation be done in that area,” Finley said. “It turned out to be the oldest recorded archeological site on the reservation.” That location will remain undeveloped; this new hotel/casino complex is a larger version of the previous, derailed plan.