TULSA, Okla. – Some people were left asking “What economic downturn?” after the recent grand opening of the River Spirit Casino. The $195 million facility, owned by the Muscogee Creek Nation, is one of the largest in Oklahoma with more than 300,000-square-feet of gaming space.
Thousands of patrons turned out for the facility’s debut March 31 with bumper to bumper traffic on many area streets. One local newspaper columnist, finding himself part of the spectacle, even grumbled that there were too many people, and not enough places to park.
Tribal officials have the parking issue covered, they said, noting that the tribe is in the process of finishing a 1,300-space parking garage at the casino that’s expected to be completed this summer.
“We were so pleased with the turnout for the opening, and numbers have been growing since then,” said Jennifer Cross, marketing director for the casino. She said the facility can hold about 7,600 patrons at full capacity. “It’s just a fabulous destination.”
Patrons have already found plenty of gaming options, as the casino contains 2,800 of the latest high-tech slot and electronic gaming machines, 24 table games and 15 poker tables. It also features free entertainment, gaming promotions and a high stakes VIP lounge.
Cross said that beyond gaming, operators put a lot of thought into the dining selections available to guests, including casual and fine dining options.
The food offerings include the Elements Steakhouse and Grille, which serves chic American cuisine prepared by a team of respected chefs. A variety of casual cuisine is served up at the casino’s Visions Buffet, the Rain Bay Café and the Scoreboard Sports Bar.
The facility also features a state-of-the-art venting system to filter air, as well as a range of drinking options and an overall Las Vegas atmosphere.
The new casino has been a long time coming for the tribe. It started out in 1984 as a much smaller bingo hall and eventually grew into a larger gaming space. About seven years ago, tribal officials broke ground on the new project in an effort to stay competitive and feature more gaming avenues.
A.D. Ellis, principal chief of the tribe, said the opening of River Spirit was a big day for the tribe, and he expects it to provide increased revenue for a variety of tribal programs, including housing, education, elderly assistance and health care.
Tribal officials also said the casino will help the tribe to become an even more active community partner by providing positive economic impact for Tulsa and the surrounding area.
According to Cross, the casino employs approximately 930 people and has brought more than 300 new jobs to the city. She and others expect the facility to become an exciting tourist attraction and travel destination for residents of Oklahoma and others nationwide.