While in Washington, the Cowlitz Tribe's $510 million Ilani casino, expected to open in spring 2017, will be located closer to Portland than Grand Ronde’s Spirit Mountain Casino, based in Oregon, and the Grand Ronde tribe anticipates that as a result it will take a negative hit, losing about 41 percent of its revenue.
"…[A]s a government that offers essential services like health care and education, we have to decide where we go from here because of this decision," tribal lobbyist Justin Martin told the Statesman Journal.
The Cowlitz casino will cut $100 million of Grand Ronde's estimated $244 million annual revenue stream—largely owed to its Spirit Mountain Casino in Grand Ronde, Oregon, about 65 miles southwest of Portland, Martin said.
The Grand Ronde Tribal Council plans to file a motion with the U.S. Supreme Court, but if that challenge is denied, the tribe will explore other revenue sources, Martin said.
Currently, 94 percent of tribal revenue supports tribal programs such as education, pensions and health care, with the remaining 6 percent going to the State of Oregon. Health consumes roughly 60 percent of the tribe's expenses.
Cowlitz casino plans have been on the drawing board for nearly a decade. The gaming facility will be located near La Center, Washington, about 30 miles north of Portland, Oregon. The 368,000-square-foot Ilani Casino will feature 15 various restaurant/bar retail and entertainment establishments, plus a 2,500-people event center. An eight-story hotel will feature 250 guest rooms.
"We’re not targeting just gamers with this facility," project General Manager Kara Fox-LaRose told KOIN.com. "We really will be unique within the gaming market in Washington."
The resort is expected to create 1,000 permanent jobs. Ilani means "sing" in the Cowlitz language.