OMAK – The Colville Confederated Tribes hopes to break ground in May on a $40 million casino resort with an 80-room hotel and a restaurant just south of Omak.
When it’s completed a year later, the casino will be twice the size of the current Mill Bay Casino in Manson, and will replace the tribes’ Okanogan Bingo Casino, said Colville Tribal Chairman Michael Finley.
It will be the Okanogan Valley’s first major destination resort, and will not only provide jobs, but could bring annual meetings or other gatherings to the area, said Roni Holder-Diefenbach, executive director of the Economic Alliance, a nonprofit group that promotes economic development in the county.
“We don’t really have any conference centers in Okanogan County, except in the Methow,” she said, adding, “It will be a great opportunity to have that here in the Omak-Okanogan area.”
This will be the second attempt by the tribes’ business arm – now called Colville Tribal Federal Corp. – to build a new casino near Omak. In July 2009, the tribes broke ground on a $24 million casino but quickly dropped the plan when remains or artifacts were found on the site, which remains undeveloped.
The new location is about 1 mile south of Highway 97, on about 35 acres of a 600-acre site owned by the tribe and leased by CTFC. Finley said the remaining land is open for lease as other business opportunities arise.
The chairman said the new 52,000-square-foot casino is a big project, both in terms of size and cost, for the tribe.
In the Okanogan Valley, Finley said, the tribes’ surveys show that Canadians make up a large portion of their customer base at the Okanogan Bingo Casino.
“What the hotel does is, it allows them to stay longer. Rather than coming for the day, they can just come and game as they please,” he said.
Holder-Diefenbach said it’s definitely good news on the job front, too.
In addition to construction jobs this spring, quite a few new jobs will be created to fill the hotel and restaurant staff, and the larger casino.