Still growing: Choctaw Casino & Resort-Durant is expanding yet again


Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma will add to their resort property in Durant, Okla.; the fourth such expansion project since the original casino opened in 2006.

The expansion will increase room capacity and the gaming floor and add additional amenities such as new pools and a lazy river, a parking garage, retail space, a conference center, entertainment  options and food and beverage. 

The Choctaw Nation anticipates breaking ground in late spring 2019, and it will take approximately 24 months to complete. The expansion will bring 1,000 more jobs to Durant. 

“More than 30 years ago our tribe had the vision to begin this expedition by purchasing the 50 acres that the resort resides on today,” said Gary Batton, chief of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. “The property was the starting point for many wonderful things to come for our tribe. We are elated to continue to grow with our community and improve the lives of our tribal and community members. This expansion will help the local economy and meet the demands of our growing customer base.”


Choctaw Casino & Resort-Durant
A rendering of how the expanded Choctaw Casino & Resort-Durant will look when completed.


Tutor Perini Building Corp. will lead a design-build team that includes JCJ Architecture and Friedmutter Group as design partners. Tutor Perini Building Corp. is a leading builder with a successful track record of work on large hospitality and gaming projects across the U.S. The company has completed more than 30 such projects for various tribal nations over the past 25 years. 

The developer for the expansion is TynanGroup LLC. TynanGroup is a national, real estate development services firm that has been helping clients successfully navigate the development process for over two decades. With more than $6 billion worth of hotel, resort and casino experience, TynanGroup is a leader in the industry.

The first Choctaw Casino in Durant opened in 2006, consisting of more than 100,000 square feet. In 2010, the tribe expanded and added the Grand Tower. The most recent renovation was complete in 2015, adding another hotel tower with a spa, The Grand Theater and the family entertainment center, The District. 

Currently, the resort offers 776 luxurious rooms and suites and the Spa Tower features a full-service spa and a salon offering hair, nails and makeup services. The three-level convention/entertainment venue offers over 100,000 square feet of meeting and convention space and seating for more than 3,000 people. The resort’s amenities include the Oasis Pool area with four tropical pools and private cabanas as well as the region’s premier entertainment complex, The District. At The District, visitors can enjoy Tailgaters sports bar, 20 bowling lanes, a 40-game arcade and a state-of-the-art movie theater. The casino’s spacious gaming complex, features more than 4,100 slot machines, 60 table games, and a private poker lounge that includes 30 poker tables. 

The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma is a federally recognized tribe whose service territory covers approximately 11,000 square miles in 10.5 counties in rural southeastern Oklahoma. The Nation is comprised of nearly 200,000 members worldwide, and it is the third largest tribe in the U.S. For more information on its casino properties, visit


Breakthrough: Morongo Casino, Resort & Spas breaks ground on exciting new expansion


Morongo tribal leaders and a host of dignitaries gathered earlier this year to break ground on a breathtaking new renovation and expansion project that will transform the heart of the AAA Four-Diamond, Palm Springs, Calif.-based Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa.

With ceremonial shovels of dirt, Morongo Tribal Chairman Robert Martin and members of the Morongo Tribal Council marked the milestone flanked by retiring Riverside County Supervisor Marion Ashley, Riverside County Supervisor-elect Jeff Hewitt and elected and business leaders from the cities of Banning and Beaumont.

“Morongo has come a long way from the tiny bingo hall we operated on the reservation back in the1980s,” said Martin. “Today, we pen a new chapter in our story as we continue to nurture new opportunities for our people, our community and our region. Today, we take a step toward generating another 425 new full-time jobs to add to the more than 2,500 jobs that Morongo already provides.”


Local officials and Morongo leaders
Local officials and Morongo leaders participate in groundbreaking ceremony for resort expansion.


Set to be finished in 2020, elements of the expansion and renovation project include:

  • An elegantly designed 65,000-square-foot expansion which will increase Morongo’s existing gaming floor by more than 30 percent, allowing for the addition of 800 new slots, new table games and new bar, lounge, and other guest amenities.
  • Renovation of the casino’s gaming floor and amenities, and renovation and replacement of first-floor restaurants to elevate the dining offerings.
  • Development of a free valet parking structure with 750 spaces, including premier parking and charging stations for more than 70 electric vehicles.

The project will also create more than 1,000 construction jobs.

“This beautiful new expansion is going to help power the economy for our region for many years to come as it will bring hundreds of new jobs and millions of dollars in new economic activity,” Ashley said. “This project is the latest example of how Morongo continues to help move our region forward.”

Martin noted that two of the construction partners are Native American-owned companies, Banning-based Sage Mountain Construction and Hal Hays Construction, ranked as the seventh Top Native American-Owned Business in the U.S. by Other construction partners include Yates Moorefield LLC.

“We’ve put together a top-notch construction team that brings together the best in the business,”Martin said.

The expansion and renovations were designed by Bergman Walls & Associates and Kenneth Ussenko Design, who have created palaces for royalty in Qatar and luxury resorts in Belize, Las Vegas and across the globe.


Local officials and Morongo leaders
Rendering of an interior space in the expansion.


“At Morongo, our goal is always to exceed the expectations of our guests by offering an unmatched gaming and luxury resort experience,” said John James, COO of the Morongo Casino. “With this exciting renovation and expansion, we are upping the ante to ensure that we stay true to that principle.”

Currently, the Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa offers slots and an array of table and high-limit gaming at one of the largest tribal gaming centers in the U.S. The towering 27-story resort features five top-rated restaurants, a swimming pool with private cabanas, a world-class spa, popular nightclub, live entertainment and, nearby, the 36-hole championship golf course.

The Morongo Band of Mission Indians is a federally recognized American Indian tribe located in Cabazon, Calif. As a sovereign nation, the Morongo government establishes tribal policy and operates numerous departments that provide fire, public safety, environmental, educational, cultural, healthcare and public works services to its tribal members and residents of the 36,000-acre Morongo Indian Reservation, set at the foot of the San Gorgonio and San Jacinto mountains. Morongo employs more than 2,500 people and generates nearly $3 billion in regional economic activity across a diverse portfolio of business enterprises in gaming, finance, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, hospitality, tourism, dining and recreation. For more information on its casino property, visit


The power of four: Cuningham Group Architecture describes four recent expansion/renovation projects it has undertaken for tribal operators


Cuninghan Group Architecture, a Minneapolis, Minn.-based gaming and entertainment architecture and interior design firm, has a well-earned reputation for creating innovative and award-winning casino, hotel, convention/event center, restaurant, retail venue and support facility projects for gaming operators throughout North America. The firm’s tribal casino projects include:

Cliff Castle Casino Hotel

The Yavapai-Apache Nation, working with DreamCatcher Hotels (DCH), developed a luxury addition to the Camp Verde, Calif.-based Cliff Castle Casino experience. The new 122-key hotel, designed by Cuningham Group, includes a mix of guestrooms and suites, complemented by retail space, a coffee shop, business center, indoor atrium pool, and outdoor seating area. The hotel rooms include luxury furnishings, spa-like showers, and the latest media technology. 


Cliff Castle Casino Hotel
Cliff Castle Casino Hotel.


Nestled in the Verde Valley, the six-story hotel also brings an additional 300-space parking garage with adjoining 5,000-square-foot multipurpose meeting center to the west side of the casino.

Angel of the Winds Casino Resort

This expansion and renovation project for the Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians, scheduled to open this summer, elevates the Arlington, Wash.-based Angel of the Winds Casino Resort to a destination resort with the addition of 275 slot machines, 12 new table games, a 750-seat concert venue/conference hall, a 12-lane bowling alley, a 200-seat buffet, and the 60-seat upscale steakhouse Whiskey Prime.


Angel of the Winds Casino Resort
A rendering of the new common area at Angel of the Winds Casino Resort.


The design takes its cues from the natural, organic forms in the Washington landscape, using modern details for balance. The main casino design creates a dynamic guest experience with sweeping pathways and ceiling elements. The food venue designs complement the casino and provide a diverse offering of spaces. The entertainment block design channels a “Rock, Roll & Bowl” atmosphere with dramatic lighting and bold colors.

Willows Hotel & Spa at Viejas

Cuningham Group was the architect of record for the latest expansion at Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians-owned Viejas Casino & Resort, one of Southern California’s most popular gaming destinations.

The centerpiece is Willows Hotel & Spa, a luxurious new 159-room, five-story, all-suites hotel. The beauty of the surrounding valley provided the design architect with the inspiration to integrate nature with an abstract interpretation of the landscape expressed in rich wood finishes, soft neutral tones and bursts of gold. The hotel includes a 7,000-square-foot spa and a 3,000-square-foot exterior pool with beach entry and pool bar.


Viejas Casino resort
Pool area at Viejas Casino resort.


New food and beverage concepts are also part of the expansion. The 250-seat signature restaurant, Locale Kitchen + Lounge, features an eclectic mix of patterns and materials, along with exposed structural elements, to create a bold fine dining concept. The new Ginger Noodle Bar embodies a calm and casual feel with seating for 122 amongst an atmosphere of abstracted Asian elements and textures, wood ceiling features and a variety of seating options. The 38-seat Daily Roast 24/7 café and a 70-seat center bar round out the new options for guests.

Additional changes at the property included a 22,580-square-foot expansion of the gaming floor with space for more than 300 slot machines, a 12,650-square-foot renovation to the existing gaming floor and a new five-stall bus depot.

The design-build project was completed in collaboration with iGroup Design and Swinerton Builders.

Isleta Casino & Resort

The dramatic expansion at Albuquerque, N.M.-based Isleta Casino & Resort includes 201 hotel rooms and suites boasting luxury amenities. 

The rich cultural history of the Pueblo of Isleta inspired the design, incorporating three main metaphors prevalent throughout: adobe, feathers and pottery. The unforgettable architectural experiences include a soaring seven-story, 90-foot glass hotel atrium with feather-like sunscreens; an outdoor “Spa Jar” in the shape of a pottery vase; and a uniquely ovular meeting room that also references pottery and serves as a terminus to the convention center’s striking, barrel-vaulted pre-function space. This convention center space was designed to appear as if carved from the earth with skylights reminiscent of historical adobe shelters. In addition, each hotel room has an artistic flare with the placement of pottery created by tribal artisans. 

Color palettes throughout the new facility are drawn from the deep blue of the sky and the rich reds, ocher and tans of the native soil and landforms of the built environment.

Cuningham Group is a highly-rated architecture and interior design practice with more than 320 employees in eight offices. Successful tribal gaming projects evolve from a combination of culturally relevant design and a keen awareness of the central issues involved in resort development. Backed by this understanding, Cuningham Group is pleased to align its own Native-led design expertise with Full Circle Indigenous Planning, a Native American-owned planning and visioning firm. For more information, visit


That’s entertainment…Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment partners to bring a Paramount Pictures-branded theme park to Inspire Integrated Entertainment Resort


Inspire Integrated Entertainment Resort, Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment’s multibillion-dollar, multi-phase integrated entertainment resort (IER) currently in development in South Korea, and Paramount Pictures Corporation have inked a strategic partnership to incorporate a Paramount Pictures-branded theme park as part of Incheon International Airport-based facility, which will be Northeast Asia’s largest IER when completed.


Inspire Integrated Entertainment Resort in South Korea
Rendering of the completed Inspire Integrated Entertainment Resort in South Korea.


“We are proud to have Paramount Pictures join us as a strategic partner in the development of our innovative integrated entertainment resort concept,” said Kevin Brown, chairman of the Mohegan Tribe and MGE Management Board. “With Paramount alongside as we answer the demand of modern consumers, the Inspire IER model not only displays our commitment to trend-setting in this industry but also demonstrates the Mohegan Tribe’s commitment to growing South Korea’s travel, tourism and workforce development goals, while securing the generational sustainability of the Mohegan Tribe.”

“Paramount is proud to announce Korea as one of the first locations for a world-class Paramount-branded theme park,” added Kevin Suh, executive vice president of themed entertainment for Paramount. “Paramount looks forward to its partnership with Inspire and to be part of one of the world’s premiere entertainment destinations at Inspire.”

Phase 1A of Inspire’s multi-phased development on just over 420 acres of Incheon Airport’s 1,079-acre IBC-III parcel of land includes:

  • A five-star resort hotel with over 1,250 rooms, suites and villas;
  • A 15,000-seat state-of-the-art concert and sports arena;
  • Casino space offering 150 table games and 700 slots/electronic games;
  • A hemispherical dome featuring over 48,000 square feet of climate-controlled indoor pool space with rides, dining and retail; and
  • Approximately 204,000 square feet of conference and convention space including the largest hotel ballroom in Incheon/Seoul at 60,460 square feet.

Groundbreaking is scheduled for May 2019 and official opening planned for 2022. Inspire’s phase 1B includes the over 99-acre Paramount Picture-branded theme park with connecting entertainment and retail village scheduled to open in 2025. 

Building upon the anticipated success of the two major phased openings, Inspire’s presence in the region will contribute to South Korea’s national economic development through job creation and the introduction of new tourism around Incheon Airport, a Northeast Asian hub airport, driving the growth of the country’s domestic tourism industry in terms of both quality and quantity.

Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE) is a master developer and operator of premier global integrated entertainment resorts, including Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn., and Inspire in Incheon, South Korea. MGE is owner, developer, and/or manager of integrated entertainment resorts throughout the U.S. For more information, visit


Event to remember: The event center and gaming floor at Coeur d’Alene Casino will see big changes as part of a major remodel for the property


Worley, Ida.-based Coeur d’Alene Casino is ending its 25th anniversary year with a bang… and hammering, painting and moving. The tribal gaming property is undergoing a massive renovation of more than 65,000 square feet of gaming and event space. 

The project, scheduled to be completed the first quarter of 2019, will bring a larger events stage, more seating, new high limit gaming area and more improvements. 

“This project is a long time coming and although we have to deal with a little construction to get there we are extremely excited to see the final product,” said Francis SiJohn, CEO of Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel. “This is going to give our guests an exciting gaming floor, better ventilation and an elevated entertainment experience.”


Gaming floor at Coeur d’Alene
Gaming floor at Coeur d’Alene


Construction began in mid-October to redesign the gaming floor décor with geometric patterns reflective of tribal designs and an LED video chandelier that can display an endless variety of patterns as well as moving imagery depicting fire, water, sunsets and more. The gaming space will receive upgraded HVAC providing 100 percent fresh air for the gaming floor and upgraded smoke clearing systems will maximize smoke removal. The remodel will introduce a new high-limit gaming area and corner bar. The gaming space near Nighthawk Lounge will receive a facelift with LED lighting and décor updates.

The casino’s event center is being upgraded with a series of high-resolution digital media displays, new service bar, upgraded finishes and dramatic décor package. The stage is doubling in size allowing for larger entertainment acts and an upgraded guest experience. A multi-tiered telescopic platform seating system is being installed which will provide additional seating options and new vantage points.

The original mural painted by George Flett, a renowned artist and member of the Spokane Tribe, is being restored and will remain in its location. The mural will also be digitized and displayed in the main gaming area near the Nighthawk Lounge.

Coeur d’Alene Casino features 300 rooms and suites, seven distinct restaurants and lounges, 100,000 square feet of gaming space offering more than 1,400 video gaming machines, high stakes bingo and off-track betting, a 15,000-square-foot luxury spa and the Circling Raven Golf Club, an 18-hole, par 72 course.

Since 1993, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe has operated the Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel. The casino resort is among the largest employers in North Idaho employing between 850 to 1,100 workers depending on the season, and contributing more than $33.3 million to education in the region since it opened.  For more information, visit

Dressing up the casino: Improved technology helps uniform manufacturers keep up with current casino style trends

by Joan Mantini

When looking at the overall role uniforms play in the casino, it can really be broken down into three main categories that should be taken into consideration during the selection process: casino branding, employee comfort and the patron experience. Casino operators are looking for apparel that can be designed and delivered in a timely and cost effective manner, can stand up to commercial laundry process and look and fit well in a fashion forward manner. 

And like many other aspects of the casino enterprise, advances in technology are helping uniform manufacturers meet these operator demands. 

“From the sewing floor, slight changes to seams or corrections to patterns can now be done real time, all the while assuring a proper fit,” said Chuck Campbell, president, At Work Uniforms.

Fabric technology is ever changing and uniform manufacturers need to ensure customers that they are always on the forefront.  “We have a team dedicated to ensuring we are using the best fabric technology available,” said Annette Aguirre, national director, gaming operations at Cintas. “Some examples include dry-fit options for employees working in warmer climates, stretch options for employees such as housekeepers who are bending and reaching throughout the day and comfortability for those employees in dresses and skirts. Our goal is to ensure the employee feels great in what they are wearing.” 

Some of the latest trends and technologies impacting the casino uniform and apparel suppliers are discussed below.


Cintas helps more than one million businesses get “Ready for the Workday” with products and services such as apparel, mats, mops, restroom supplies, first aid and safety products, fire extinguishers and testing, and safety and compliance training. The gaming division of Cintas works closely with the casino industry and has partnerships with just about every major casinos across the country.  


Scenes from the Cintas fashion show at G2E 2018


“Our designs steer away from the traditional uniform look and instead focus on a garment that each employee would want to wear at work as well as outside of work,” said Aguirre. “We focus on building the confidence of each employee by ensuring they are comfortable in their garments and feel great in the style. This is a shift from the days when the uniforms were rigid, staunch and ‘one size fits all.’ We bring designs that look and feel great on any body shape.”

The company dedicates a team to service customers which includes an image consultant, designer and production team. It starts with a fresh slate and a custom program is built based on their individual brand, colors and culture. “Our vast selection of options allows us to create custom items, semi-custom or choose from our expansive ready-to-wear items,” said Aguirre.  

The company has recently partnered with several name brands to incorporate into its lines, including Chef Works, Under Armour, Express and Carhartt, along with others.  


Scenes from the Cintas fashion show at G2E 2018


Cintas has a dedicated gaming team lead by a casino veteran who understands the infrastructure of the industry. Aguirre joined the Cintas last year as the national gaming director. She has over 20 years of experience in the casino industry working in human resources. The company believes that with her leadership, it better understands the needs and challenges of the customer from an engagement perspective.  “We not only meet the individual demands of branding and color, we also focus on the engagement of each and every employee by offering comfort and style,” said Aguirre.  

The company also recently introduced Design Collective by Cintas, which is something it has been working on specifically to address some of the trends the companies believes are out there.  “We know today’s employees are passionate about what they wear, and want to wear clothing they would wear outside of work. Our design houses, including our gaming design studio in Las Vegas, create wardrobe collections that often resemble what employees would have in their own closets,” said Aguirre.

Cintas is now working with every major casino including MGM, Boyd, Venetian/Palazzo, Caesar’s, Penn Gaming and El Dorado. In addition, it works with several Indian gaming operations including Morongo, Agua Caliente, Choctaw and Wind Creek, among others. 


At Work Uniforms is a wholesaler and manufacturer of uniforms and career apparel. Through the company’s distributor network is with large national and international manufacturers, At Work Uniforms reportedly delivers every brand name of apparel for the uniform marketplace in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean.  With its design staff, it is able to custom make and deliver any kind of made-to-order uniform that a property needs, specializing in embellishments with in-house graphic design utilizing state-of-the-art design software, embroidery equipment, sewn-on patches, as well as screen printing and reflective transfers.  At Work Uniform’s range of services include sewing alterations, modifications and private labeling.


Some At Work Uniforms design concepts


Some of the latest contracts in the casino industry for At Work Uniforms include MGM Resorts, Tachi Place Hotel & Casino and Rhythm City Casino Resort.

“When we first called on a casino in 1992 (the year the first casino opened in Mississippi), we were asked to provide polo shirts and Dickies work pants,” said Campbell.  “As more casinos started opening up, operators wanted to take it to the next level—the Las Vegas tuxedo shirt look for dealers. Then in 1999, Elaine Wynn changed things forever… she helped opened the Beau Rivage in Biloxi and brought the look of coordinated, unique, custom-made apparel to the Gulf Coast. Ever since then, we have been bringing front-of-the-house and back-of-the-house apparel to our 190 plus casino customers; and each year, the separation between current retail, ready-to-wear fashion and career and uniform appeal has been narrowing.” 


Some At Work Uniforms design concepts


At Work Uniforms maintains its simple business model—first, listen to the customer, suggest styles, colors, fabrics (visually, either through image files or industry-stand storyboards), and then bring in actual samples.  “The ability to show a uniform selection committee a look and subsequently make changes to the imagery (change out colors, add trims, short or lengthen sleeves or hip lines) and do it within hours just speeds up the decision making process to get to the physical sewn sample,” said Campbell.

“There is one thing that we attempt to do with customers that most people overlook—continuity,” added Campbell. “Based the apparel on a silhouette, a look and carry it throughout a property as best you can to give that brand a cohesive look from job function to job function.”

As for the future look of casinos, Campbell says, “I see a combination of more themed and more retail fashion…. sharper looking garments that associates want to wear.”