Tribal Government Gaming 2024 | Page 22

Major Points of Entry in Northwest Washington
Source : ESRI ; U . S . Customs and Border Protection
One of the largest casinos in Washington State , the Tulalip Resort Casino will expand by another 70,000 square feet in 2024
Casinos in Major Cities Thrive
Despite these limitations , the casinos around Seattle and Tacoma are seemingly thriving . The area saw tremendous growth coming out of the Covid- 19 pandemic period . Though , more recently , facilities located north of Seattle near the Canadian border may be experiencing impacts from a decrease in border crossings since the pandemic . Still , overall , the casino properties in these markets are growing and adding to their offerings .
The Emerald Queen Casino & Hotel in Tacoma had its grand opening in mid-2020 , featuring more than 2,100 slots and 60 tables , as well as a 155-room hotel tower and various amenities , all costing around $ 400 million to construct . Snoqualmie Casino , located east of the Seattle suburb of Bellevue , is in the middle of a property remodel and expansion that will add a 210-room hotel , a 2,000-seat entertainment and convention space , new restaurants , an expanded casino floor , and several other new amenities , all of which are expected to open by early 2025 .
Tulalip Resort Casino , the largest casino north of the Seattle area , recently announced a property expansion that will add 70,250 square feet to the existing 192,000-squarefoot facility . According to Tulalip , the two-year project will expand the casino floor and add new guest amenities .
In the Tacoma area , Muckleshoot Casino Resort began the new year with the opening of its new 401-room hotel that includes a rooftop steakhouse and other new amenities .
Further south , close to the Oregon border , ilani Casino Resort opened its 289-room hotel in April 2023 . With this level of expansion activity , there is little doubt that other casino properties in the region will follow suit to remain competitive .
There is a pocket of northwest Washington that seemingly has not bounced back as quickly as the rest of the state ; however , it is of no fault of theirs . For a long time , casino properties close to the Canadian border near the towns of Mount Vernon and Bellingham have benefited from the several million people that cross the border into Washington . As previously noted , these numbers have dropped since the pandemic .
The Innovation Group analyzed border crossing data from U . S . Customs and Border Protection for the four major points of entry : Sumas , Kenneth G Ward Point of Entry ( Lyden ), and the two points of entry in Blaine ( Blaine and Peace Arch ) from 2019 through 2023 . These points of entry and the nearby casino facilities are displayed on the map at top right .
On an aggregate basis , the four points of entry totaled almost 7.4 million travelers in passenger vehicles in 2019 . The pandemic essentially shut the border down with only 368,000 travelers in passenger vehicles crossing in 2021 . Border crossings have been slow to recover and have yet to reach pre-pandemic levels — falling 215,000 travelers shy of 2019 levels in 2023 with 5.7 million travelers . While this data shows that border crossings have not bounced back yet , it is also important to consider that Canadian gamers who could not visit U . S . casinos during the pandemic may have found a replacement casino product north of the border .
Major Point of Entry Travelers in Passenger Vehicles Data ; 2019 – 2023
Source : U . S . Customs and Border Protection
The tribal gaming industry across the state of Washington is strong and steady . Despite the limitation of the Class III slot product , the casinos are quickly expanding and adding new , enticing amenities to keep the customer base interested and engaged . Looking forward , the state continues to grow and establish itself as a top U . S . destination . Washington state was ranked the No . 2 state to live in 2023 by U . S . News & World Report . The casino industry is keeping pace and maintaining its place as an important economic driver for both its tribes and local communities . — Alex Goldstein is the manager of The Innovation Group .