Casino announces expansion
By Nate Wisneski - Kalihwisaks
The Oneida Tribe broke ground on a $27.9 million casino expansion project in hopes of capturing even more of the area’s gaming customers and maintain their competitive edge over the other 15 gaming facilities in Wisconsin.
The expansion and renovation will upgrade the main casino along with the Mason Street Casino. Changes to the main casino include more space allocated to slot machines, approximately 5,000 square feet of smoke-free gaming, relocation of the smoke shop to the gaming floor and a food court with three separate restaurant selections. The main casino will be the new home for the poker room and also host a 10,500 square foot sports bar and grill. The Mason Street location will add a 100-seat country themed bar and grill. The facility will expand by 8,000 square feet on the northwest side. More slot machines will be added with poker moving to the main casino.
The improvements were based off focus group results with Oneida Fun Club members.
“We are going to reinvest in ourselves,” said Gaming General Manager Louise Cornelius. “Our vision is to ensure all customers have a positive entertainment experience each and every time they visit. The Oneida Gaming Division is headed for an incredibly exciting year with this expansion. We are energized and excited to put the plan of action in motion for development of expansion of gaming, entertainment and dining experiences.”
National Indian Gaming Association Chairman Ernie Stevens feels modern and guest focused gaming facilities benefits all tribes.
“People come to our facilities to spend their recreational dollars and it’s not always about a slot machine. Whether it’s good music, good food or just a different experience, in today’s gaming world, there are a lot more options out there,” Stevens said. “So competition is a good thing and today, the Oneida Nation steps up to the plate.”
Stevens also pointed out Indian gaming is accomplishing what it was designed to do.
“We were in the process of doing what exactly tribal government gaming does, expanding and building into our education system and our tribal government system. That is the true reason for gaming and that’s really what we are all about,” he said.
It is anticipated that the opening of the new food venues will create approximately 145 to 175 food and beverage jobs. The main casino construction is set to be completed in April 2014 while work at the Mason Street location is slated to be finalized in May of 2014.
The expansion plans were approved the General Tribal Council (GTC) during a November 2011 GTC Budget meeting.
“We have a great work force that continues to move our casino forward. We have the support of the Oneida Business Committee and most importantly more than 2,000 of our General Tribal Council that supported this expansion (and) gave us support and approval to move forward,” added Cornelius.