View Full Version : Chickasaws plan casino projects

01-09-2005, 09:02 AM

Casino/conference center: $50 million

500-room hotel: $50 million

200-room hotel: $13.71 million

Parking garage: $16 million

Family fun center: $13,707,500

Public safety building: $5 million

Golf course clubhouse: $1.5 million

Security/office building: $2 million

Golf course maintenance building: $395,000

RV Park office: $385,000


Goldsby Casino: $40 million

Newcastle Casino: $40 million

Sulphur Artesian Hotel: $27,525,000

TOTAL: $260,222,500


Chickasaws plan casino projects

By Anthony Thornton
The Oklahoman

The Chickasaw Nation plans to invest $260 million on casinos and other tourism projects, including $153 million to convert its largest casino into a Vegas-style venue, The Oklahoman has learned.

The transformation of the WinStar casino near Thackerville into an entertainment mecca would further expand the tribe's growing presence in southern Oklahoma, especially among Texas gamblers.

Already the state's largest casino, the WinStar complex along Interstate 35 will feature two large hotels, an expanded casino and conference center, a golf course and a family fun center, according to a development plan approved last month by the Chickasaw Legislature.

Other investments include $40 million upgrades of casinos at Goldsby and Newcastle, plus a $27 million project to tear down the Chickasaw Lodge at Sulphur and replace it with a "grand palace" resembling the Artesian Hotel built on that spot around statehood.

"This is part of an overall plan to really develop and create a destination point in south-central Oklahoma," said Brian Campbell, chief executive officer of Chickasaw Enterprises, the tribe's business arm.

Campbell said the entire plan should create 3,000 jobs.

Tribal Legislator Wilson Seawright said the 13-member Legislature was told at a Dec. 17 meeting that virtually all of the money will be fronted by an unspecified vendor.

Seawright, one of three who voted against the plan, said he has several concerns, including a promise that the tribe would only have to repay one-third of the money.

"Now, folks just don't do business like that. There's got to be expectations of some other payback," he said.

The tribe's casino partner, Multimedia Games of Austin, Texas, financed the WinStar and other previous Chickasaw casino expansions. Those arrangements require the company's electronic machines to cover 80 percent of casino floor space, with the company collecting a percentage from each machine.

Multimedia owns roughly half of the 20,000 gambling machines in Oklahoma, industry analysts say.

In the past year, Multimedia's subsidiary, MegaBingo, has bought several large tracts next to the Thackerville and Newcastle casinos and conveyed them to the tribe.

Campbell said he could not disclose Multimedia's involvement in the development plan except that "the company will assist in construction."

Although the Chickasaw Nation owns a bank, a chocolate factory and several smokeshops and gas stations, gaming is its main cash cow.

The tribe doesn't release specific gaming revenues, but its overall business revenues before expenses totaled $63.2 million for October and November, according to the tribal newspaper.

The Chickasaws have become the state's dominant gaming tribe, thanks largely to its ability to put land into federal trust in prime locations, many of them along Interstate 35.

Projects outlined
Campbell unveiled his plan to the Legislature six weeks after Oklahoma voters approved State Question 712. That measure expands gambling at three pari-mutuel horse tracks and allows tribal casinos to offer tournament-style card games and new, more attractive electronic games, including video poker.

Industry analysts say that will open the market to become more competitive with gambling destination spots such as Tunica, Miss.; Kansas City, Mo; and Shreveport-Bossier City, La.

Campbell said the significant investment at Thackerville represents the tribe's interest in capturing a larger share of the Dallas-Fort Worth market.

Texas gamblers have comprised a large majority of the WinStar's customers since its opening three miles north of the Texas border in July 2003.

The 1,500 employees at the casino and the Chickasaws' new 96-room motel next door already triple Thackerville's population. Campbell said he expects 1,500 more employees when the Thackerville complex is finished.

The complex will include a 500-room hotel, a 200-room hotel, a 1,400-space parking garage and a family fun center modeled after one the tribe recently opened in Ada.

Documents obtained by The Oklahoman indicate the smaller hotel may undergo future expansion.

Gambling industry analyst Ross Clarke said the Thackerville investments make sense because of its proximity to Dallas-Fort Worth.

"That's a market that just dwarfs us," Clarke said. "The only question I have is, how much of that market is a day-trip market?"

He said Atlantic City over-built on hotels and discovered the hard way that, unlike Las Vegas tourists, many Atlantic City gamblers return home at night.

Campbell said the hotel plans were in response to surveys indicating WinStar customers wanted more lodging choices.

Campbell said the tribe will replace the WinStar and temporary casino buildings at Newcastle and Goldsby with huge permanent buildings.

Campbell said there are 1,062 machines at the existing Newcastle casino and 380 at Goldsby.

The Goldsby project includes a 1,200-space parking garage, documents show.

At Sulphur, the tribe hopes to recreate the Artesian Hotel, a showplace from statehood until 1962, when a fire destroyed it.

The hotel will feature a small gaming area and will be roughly two miles from the tribe's planned 110-acre cultural center. Groundbreaking was held in late September for that $67 million project.

Contributing: News research specialist Billie Harry


01-09-2005, 09:55 PM
i read that, i'll have to check it out when its done

01-10-2005, 04:47 AM
If they do it right, the WinStar Resort complex would definitely be a sight to see. It is already very impressive down there.

01-10-2005, 03:13 PM
So are they going to completely demolish the existing Winstar? That's kind of the drift I got. Also, I was wondering if the hotels would be attached to the casino like at Cherokee, or if they would be detached, but on the property. For the complete Vegas feel, I hope they're attached to the casino.

01-10-2005, 04:35 PM
I would assume attached, but just an assumption.

01-10-2005, 08:58 PM
Hopefully you're, that would be a pretty awesome complex.