Nikole Christensen

New and Updated 
Native American casinos


Nikole Christensen
Published April 01, 2014

What began as a bingo hall on Seminole Reservation land in Florida in the 1970s has grown into a multimillion-dollar business for Native American tribes all across the nation today.

Native American groups have partnered with gaming corporations to build casinos that rival the Las Vegas strip in every region of the country. But there’s always room for a little more fun, and the following Native American casinos have either made major renovations to their space or are planning to open new facilities.


Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino and Hotel

Murphy, North Carolina

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI), in partnership with Caesar’s Entertainment, has broken ground on a new casino in Murphy, North Carolina. The casino will include 60,000 square feet of gaming space with slots and traditional table games, a 300-room full-service hotel and a variety of dining options. The games will include traditional favorites and popular slots.

The EBCI operates Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Resort, which is located about an hour from the new facility. Recent changes in state law have allowed it to expand its holdings, and the new casino will be geared more toward day-trippers and gamers from nearby metropolitan cities to the south and southwest.

“Having the second facility in Murphy, on tribal land and within a two-hour drive, allows for easy access to/from major markets such as Atlanta, Athens, Chattanooga and Knoxville,” said Lumpy Lambert, general manager of the new facility. “These are excellent markets for us, and we now reduce guest travel time by an hour or more.”


Blackbird Bend Casino

Onawa, Iowa

The Blackbird Bend Casino is a rebirth of the former CasinOmaha, which was damaged in a catastrophic flood of the Missouri River Valley in 2011. The building was protected initially from floodwaters by a berm, but groundwater rose up through the floor and forced the casino to close its doors.

In January 2013, the casino reopened as the Blackbird Bend in a renovated portion of the original building while a new building was under construction.

“The new facility opened to the public in February,” said Mike Krysl, director of marketing. “We have more slots [350], live table games, bingo, a restaurant, gift shop and bar.

“This is a sort of a rebirth, and it’s significant for the Omaha tribe of Iowa and Nebraska in that it created 140 new jobs with the opening of the new facility,” said Krysl. “This is significant in an area where there hasn’t been a lot of economic growth in the corridor between Omaha and Sioux City.”

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