Elwha casino opening delayed

PORT ANGELES — Christmas revelers won’t be able to play the slots at the Lower Elwha Klallam tribal reservation.

Problems getting electrical power to a new casino near the southern end of Stratton Road south of the tribal center have delayed its anticipated holiday start.

It now is scheduled to open in mid- or late January, Sonya Tetnowski, tribal executive director, said Friday.

Meanwhile, the 7,000-square-foot building has been roofed, glazed and painted a soft yellow, and parking places have been paved.

The $4 million building will have 100 bingo-style electronic slots that will accept amounts starting with pennies, tribal officials said when they announced the casino project in August.

It also will have a deli but will not serve alcohol, said Tribal Chairwoman Frances Charles.

As befits a gambling operation, the casino represents a hedged bet.

Should it prove unsuccessful — or if the tribe follows its plan to open a larger casino on U.S. Highway 101 west of Port Angeles — the building is designed eventually to house other tribal offices.

Second casino

It will be the second tribal casino on the North Olympic Peninsula, the first being the much larger 7 Cedars Casino of the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe in Blyn.

Unlike 7 Cedars, which as a Class 2 casino is supervised by the state of Washington, the Class 3 operation of the Lower Elwha will be overseen by the federal government through the National Indian Gaming Commission.

As Class 3, it also need not set aside some profits for community charities, although its profits have been earmarked for such tribal needs as housing, health care and social services, Charles said.

The casino will be the second time the Lower Elwha have offered gambling on the reservation, having once run bingo games in the tribal center.

It represents a 20-year wait by the Lower Elwha tribe to open a casino. It was the first tribe to sign a gaming compact with the state in 1989.

The tribe’s marketing studies say the casino will draw visitors from as far west as Neah Bay and from as far east as McDonald Creek.


Reporter Jim Casey can be reached at 360-417-3538 or at jim.casey@peninsuladailynews.com.

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