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Tulalip Tribes break ground on new casino

The new Quil Ceda Creek Casino will include expanded floor space, a hotel and parking garage


December 20, 2017 | View PDF

Christopher Andersson

Officials from the Tulalip Tribes break ground for the new Quil Ceda Creek Casino on Dec. 12. From left, Tulalip tribal board member Mel Sheldon, president of Tulalip Resort Casino Ken Kettler, general manager Tulalip Resort Casino Sam Askew and executive vice president of the Quil Ceda Creek Casino Teresa Jira.

Officials from the Tulalip Tribes broke ground on Dec. 12 for a new and expanded Quil Ceda Creek Casino that will include a hotel and parking garage.

Officials say that they currently plan for the new casino to be open in the spring of 2019.

They broke ground at 6103 31st Ave NE, Tulalip, where the casino is scheduled to be built, which is land that neighbors the Tulalip Justice Center.

The Quil Ceda Creek Casino has always been the small local casino compared to the large destination that is Tulalip Resort Casino, and officials from the Tulalip Tribes hope to keep the things people like about the Quil Ceda Creek Casino as it grows.

"We're taking what our guests enjoy about our existing property and enhancing those features as well as adding additional amenities they said they wanted to see," said Teresa Jira, executive vice president of the Quil Ceda Creek Casino.

They hope that the additions will improve the atmosphere at the casino.

"We want to create the things that people wanted to see more of and create an atmosphere that is fun and exciting, but still feels like the Q [the Quil Ceda Creek Casino]," said Ken Kettler, president of Tulalip Resort Casino.

Casino officials have also been talking with their customers about what they have enjoyed about the current facility.

"We've talked to a lot of our customers over the last couple of years to take into account what they enjoy and why they go to the Q," said Kettler.

The Tulalip Tribes is expanding the facility as it is gathering more customers than it can sustain in it's current form.

"That little building is bursting at the seams," said Tulalip Tribal board member Les Parks. "The revenue cannot grow there anymore. They're using every square foot they can."

The casino has already rearranged its floor once to add hundreds of machines, but after that change a few years ago the customer base continued to grow.

"Teresa Jira has extracted all the funds that we can out of that building," said Parks.

The demand is going to outpace what the facility can provide eventually, and the Tribes' studies into the issue say that an expansion is prudent.

"The capacity and the demand for the business is there, which led us to the decision to expand and do what we are doing today," said Kettler.

The parking lot for the casino has also expanded in the past because of increasing demand.

"I think about the last dozen years or so we got to a point where people were parking on the road over at Roy Robinson [a nearby car dealership] so we expanded the parking area to accommodate those individuals," said Kettler.

Kettler expects that the casino will only receive more customers as Snohomish County is one of the fastest growing counties in the nation.

"North Snohomish County is going to continue to grow by leaps and bounds," he said.

The new casino is planned to have a capacity for up to 1,500 slot machines with a more spacious floor, said Jira.

In addition there will be more table games planned for the building.

A state of the art smoke elimination system is part of the current plans for the new casino, "and you might know that is our number one complaint in our existing property," said Jira.

A new dining area will offer a "food hall experience" said Jira, while a new entertainment area is also going to be added.

To relieve parking concerns a 1,200 stall parking garage is also planned.

Finally, a 150 room hotel is scheduled to be built as well.

It will be a long journey for a casino that was formerly just meant for bingo.

"I remember that bingo hall opened in 1983," said Parks.

"Ten years later we decided we're going to open a casino, so we closed half the bingo down and opened up our table game casino," he said.

In another decade the Tribes would go even bigger.

"In 2003 we decided we' were going to build a big casino, which we did at the Quil Ceda Village site," said Parks, and that casino is now the Tulalip Resort Casino.

The land, near I-5 and Ebey Slough, has a long history.

"This area has a rather unique history," said Tulalip Tribal board member Mel Sheldon Jr.

It was originally owned by one of the original signatories to the Point Elliott Treaty (a treaty between Puget Sound tribes and the U.S. government which laid out an agreement still in effect today).

Later the land was turned into a gas station.

"Some of you may remember in the '60s, before the bell bottoms and platform shoes, there was a Shell gas station here," said Sheldon.

It remained a gas station for the region for 22 years, where the owners "employed any young tribal member in need of a job there," said Sheldon.

Courtesy of the Tulalip Tribes

A rendering of what the planned entrance to the Quil Ceda Creek Casino will look like.

Now the land is planned to contribute more economic growth to the Tulalip region.

"It's so exciting that we're finally making this groundbreaking and what it's going to do for the community and the Tribes with economic development," said vice-chairwoman Teri Gobin.

She said that the increase of jobs is important to the community as well.

"I've been working, for several years, with TERO [Tribal Employment Rights Office] so I see that jobs are important to our community," said Gobin.

The Tribes plan to invest in some street improvements for the area, as well, to ease some of the traffic that will come to the area.

Officials say the current Quil Ceda Creek Casino will continue to operate normally with a full entertainment schedule until the new casino is completed.


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