Choctaw Casino has officially broken ground on its new $275 million dollar expansion that will bring 700 new jobs to local residents.
The expansion will include family friendly features such as a new movie theater, bowling alley and laser zone.
It will also include a new 22-story hotel with a top floor spa, new restaurants and updated Oasis area. Executive Director of Gaming Janie Dillard said she has had this vision for a while.
She said the tribe knew they wanted more and this is not where they wanted to be.
“I feel like I’m the dreamer of the tribe,” said Dillard.
Dillard said that the casino’s hotel gets packed full with families every summer but the family and children activities are limited.
Dillard said there are simply not enough attractions to retain the families that visit the resort. “We’re not keeping anyone longer on our property with us or keeping them longer in the town of Durant,” said Dillard.
She said they started thinking of ways to embrace the families. The expansion is geared toward family activities.
Dillard said the first phase, a renovation to the south casino, is set to be finished in December and work on the north casino will start shortly after.
She said the plan is to have the movie theater and bowling alley finished by early 2015 and the entire expansion finished by May 2015.
Choctaw Nation Chief Gregory Pyle said this expansion is not all about the money. He said this will help support the more than 5,000 children the nation has to educate each year.
“It’s not just a casino to us. This puts thousands of kids through college every year,” said Pyle.
He said the tribe is working on a program to bring up young school children in all 10 Choctaw counties as well.
According to Pyle, the renovation is also meant to help residents in the area stay in the area and keep families together by offering new jobs.
Pyle said they want to make sure the people in the area know they don’t have to move away from their families to find good jobs.
Assistant Chief Gary Batton said it was a sad day to know the wellness center and old bingo hall had to be torn down but it is for the sake of progress.
Batton said the casino aimed to be the main tourist destination for the southeast Oklahoma region. Many other speakers shared his sentiments.