By William Swaim / Wyandotte Nation
In a highly competitive market, when it came to renovating and expanding the Wyandotte Nation Casino, the goal was to ‘innovate’ and not ‘duplicate’ what others were doing in the region.
“By any measure the patrons will have a sense of a totally new casino with very little of anything that resembles the casino prior to the remodel,” said Gary Johnson, the Wyandotte Nation Casino General Manager. “It will be a whole new experience. The expansion will allow us to add more games and more variety than ever before.”
The Wyandotte Nation Casino is nearing completion of its extensive expansion and redesign. Wyandotte Nation Chief Billy Friend said it is important to offer entertainment, setting the Wyandotte Nation Casino apart.
“When the team sat down and really got creative and came up with this project, we fell in love with it. We’re very excited about it. We are offering something different in the market we are in,” the Chief said. “Most people who aren’t from this area don’t understand how competitive it is. This sets us apart.”
Chief Friend said most expansions in this area have been on the hotel side or the gaming side of things.
He said this project wasn’t really focused on a gaming expansion, but more on providing another entertainment option for those who may not necessarily be into gaming, but maybe “want to come hear a band, dance or maybe even bowl a few games.”
The $7 million phase one renovation gives the casino a very modern and contemporary look, and expands it by 25,000 square feet to make room for new features such as Club 60 West, a new event and concert venue, bowling lanes, restaurant remodel and expansion, plus meeting and party rooms.
“I think what we tried to accomplish when we set out on this project was something different from an entertainment perspective than what any of our competitors had,” said Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma (WTOK) CEO Kelly Carpino. WTOK is the Wyandotte Nation’s federally chartered corporation and provides economic development support for the Tribe.
“Whether it is a band, a concert, a comedian or whatever we choose – we wanted to create an experience where people can have more of a social gathering spot – a place where they could come for a night of fun.”
In addition to the other new features, the Twin Bridges Restaurant was revamped with a contemporary look, nearly doubled in size and includes a martini bar, private dining and a new menu.
“After a year of planning and another year of construction we are about to see phase one of our two phase remodel and expansion come to completion,” Johnson said. “The ultimate floor layout and game placement won’t be completed until phase two is finished.
Phase two will feature an expanded gaming floor accommodating nearly 300 additional games, a new and relocated high limit slot area with a VIP lounge. It will also feature a new and enlarged players club, gift shop along with conveniently located casino host and group sales offices.
One of the most striking features will be a light display as patrons enter the building similar to the light features in the ceiling added as part of the phase one remodel. This same feature will be added to the exterior of the building featuring 12 illuminated columns, each depicting one of the 12 Clans that make up the Wyandotte Nation.
In addition to the event center and Club 60 West, phase one included a remodel of the existing casino floor including new carpet, a redesign and decorative treatment of the columns, restroom and cashier counter upgrades, the addition of a floor bar on the west end of the casino, and a complete redesign of the Casino Deli and seating area.
Phase two, when finished will marry the two sections and add additional and ceiling and lighting features different from those in phase one.
Upon completion of phase two, which is the Casino’s 12,500 sq. foot addition to the north, the floor will be completed along with the pathways that will lead patrons through the Casino and to the various venues.
Not only will phase two offer more gaming space and many new games, but it will move the Casino entrance and the porte cochere to face Hwy 60.
The new high limit slot area will be located right upon entering. The new high limit slot area was designed to offer both luxury and comfort to the Casino’s high limit players.
Besides the game area, the Casino has added a very plush and comfortable VIP lounge where these players can take a break, watch TV, read the newspaper or just relax.
No less important is the treatment the building is getting on the outside. Besides the new entrance, the exterior of the building will have a colorful new look and illuminated features.
“We think it will be impossible to drive by without stopping to check us out, and once in you’ll be treated to an experience unlike any other,” Johnson said.
Johnson said he expects the project to be completely done late February – weather permitting.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the time, effort and long hours the staff has put in to make it happen. And judging by positive and enthusiastic comments we’ve received from the players that stuck with us throughout the project while putting up with the chaos, the dust and the noise — they can’t wait to enjoy everything we’re going to be offering,” Johnson said.