In north Tulsa on Monday, a “topping off” ceremony was hosted by tribal leaders of the Osage Nation to commemorate achieving the maximum height of the tribe’s unfinished $150 million casino and hotel project.
A white ceremonial I-beam was signed by officials after which time it was to be hoisted to the top of the 141-room, seven-floor hotel being erected as part of the expansion of the decade-old, 47,000 square foot Osage Casino on 36th Street North, as reported by Tulsa World.
The 18-month project is expected to be completed and open for business by fall 2018. After the new casino is operational, the existing structures will be leveled at some point. In addition to a state-of-the-art 66,280-square-foot casino, the finished product will feature a café, sports bar and grill, brew pub, event center and the hotel. It is reportedly the hope of tribal leaders that the brew pub concept will help the new casino stand out in what is one of the most competitive gaming markets in the U.S.
Geoffrey Standing Bear, Chief of the Osage Nation, lauded the expansion project; reportedly calling it a “stellar facility” that will be capable of competing with neighbors and competitors, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and the Cherokee Nation. The two Oklahoma tribes already own and operate destination locales; the River Spirit Casino at South Riverside Drive in Tulsa, which features Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville Casino & Restaurant and the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa in Catoosa, respectively.
The Osage Nation Chief also noted that with “ever shrinking” federal money, revenues from the new casino would help to fund programs the tribe offers such as higher education scholarships, day care and its health-care card. Chief Standing Bear explained, “We do have license tags, we do have a shrinking revenue source from tobacco, but we need these casinos in order to provide essential educational opportunities and health benefits for our people.” He said. “That’s where the money goes,” according to Tulsa World.
In agreement with attendees of the topping off ceremony, Mayor G.T. Bynum reportedly stated that north Tulsa is “long overdue for economic revitalization and growth.” He went on to say that once completed, the new casino will employ 435 people, which will contribute upwards of $32 million annually in salaries and wages.
The expansion project which broke ground on November 17, 2016, will reportedly feature 1,550 electronic gaming machines, five poker tables and 16 table games. To complement the 141 guest rooms, the hotel will have six suites, with four hospitality suites, a resort-style pool and a fitness center.
The topping off ceremony is on the heels of the Osage Nation’s hiring of former speaker of the Missouri House, Steve Tilley to lobby on the tribe’s behalf in its push to open a casino in Crawford County near the city of Cuba, approximately 80 miles southwest of St. Louis, Missouri.