Tag Archives: Casino

S’Klallam Scaling Back Plans For Casino Expansion

Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe Chairman Jeromy Sullivan hears it all the time.
“I get asked on a weekly basis,” he said.
What’s on peoples’ minds? The Point Casino. More specifically, the tribe’s plans for casino expansion.
The plan that people remember was a big one. A huge casino expansion, with a hotel, business park, retail and housing. That was in 2007, and the world – along with leadership of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe – has changed a lot.
“I thought it was pretty aggressive to put something like that out there,” said Sullivan, the 36-year-old chairman elected in July. Sullivan and other tribal leaders and staff members met with the Kitsap Sun Friday afternoon.
As recent as two years ago, the tribe was pursuing looking at 100,000 square feet of gaming, retail, restaurants, meeting space and bars, with 400 additional slots and adding 200 more employees. A hotel was seen as a second phase.
But in recent years, there’s been some movement in top leadership positions at the tribe, and the economy is much different now.
“The ideas have changed,” Sullivan said. “The thought processes have changed.”
Given today’s economic reality, the tribe is now looking at more modest changes to The Point Casino, starting with a remodel.
The tribe’s Chief Executive Officer, Marjorie Zarate, said they’re currently doing marketing studies to see how their casino, which provides the bulk of the revenue the tribe uses to fund its programs, can differentiate itself.
A face lift for the current casino, built in the mid-90s as a bingo hall, new signs and upgraded dining and beverage areas are in the cards.
“It’s going to be aggressive,” she said of the project timing. But it’s a far cry from the previous plans. Exact plans and timing aren’t yet determined.
While the casino plans are likely what most of the public is interested in, Sullivan took some time to explain the tribe’s position on a critically important issue for itself – Port Gamble Bay.
There wasn’t much new, but Sullivan stressed that he hopes the tribe is included early as their across-the-bay neighbors, Olympic Property Group and its town site at Port Gamble, begin planning for more development.
“Even if we don’t agree on things, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about them,” he said.
As issue is the status of the tribe’s generations-long practice, and treaty rights, to harvest fish and shellfish from the bay. There’s also a cleanup effort underway, with OPG and the Department of Natural Resources on the hook, so to speak. For 142 years a sawmill occupied land across the bay that was the original home for the Port Gamble S’Klallam. The mill closed in 1995.
As OPG works on plans for more development, the tribe worries that it could threaten the ability of its members to harvest seafood from the bay.
The dispute already strained relations between the entities when the tribe opposed an OPG plan for a dock in Port Gamble Bay, worrying that the boats and their effluent would result in shellfish bed closures.
From Sullivan’s perspective, there needs to be conversation, and he has to work to protect his tribal member’s rights to shellfishing, and the health of the bay.
“Something that could directly affect the tribe, we’ve got to discuss it,” he said.

– Derek Sheppard