Cowlitz Tribe celebrates start of construction on $500M casino

Construction continues on the Cowlitz Casino and Entertainment Resort in Washington. Still image from Cowlitz Casino Project

The Cowlitz Tribe of Washington is on track to open a long-awaited casino in the spring of 2017.

Tribal members gathered on Sunday to sign a steel beam for the $500 million Cowlitz Casino and Entertainment Resort, The Columbian reported. The 368,000 square-foot facility will feature 100,000 square-feet of gaming space with 2,500 slots and 80 gaming tables, 15 restaurants, bars and retail outlets and a 2,500-seat meeting and entertainment venue.

“The roof is going on very fast. We’ve only had one unworkable weather day so far, and that’s really accelerating the construction,” Chairman Bill Iyall told The Longview Daily News. “It’s just exciting to see it progress.”

The Cowlitz Tribe raised its flag on its new reservation in Clark County, Washington, last week. Photo from Facebook

The tribe is still facing opposition from local groups and the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde in neighboring Oregon. A lawsuit pending in federal court is based on the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar.

The ruling held that the Bureau of Indian Affairs can only place land in trust for tribes that were "under federal jurisdiction" in 1934. The Cowlitz didn't gain formal recognition until 2000 but the BIA determined that the tribe met the standard in a decision that was upheld by a federal judge.

The case is now before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. A hearing is scheduled for March 18, according to the court's calendar.

Get the Story:
Cowlitz Tribe celebrates homecoming, casino (The Columbian 2/15)
COWLITZ CASINO RISES (The Longview Daily News 2/14)
Cowlitz Tribe, Clark County Fire & Rescue reach deal (The Columbian 2/12)

Federal Register Notices:
Proclaiming Certain Lands as Reservation for the Cowlitz Indian Tribe (November 13, 2015)
Land Acquisitions; Cowlitz Indian Tribe (May 8, 2013)

DOI Solicitor Opinion:
M-37029: The Meaning of "Under Federal Jurisdiction" for Purposes of the Indian Reorganization Act (March 12, 2014)

Related Stories:
Cowlitz Tribe close to reaching agreement with city for new casino (2/5)
Cowlitz Tribe plans to debut long-awaited casino in spring of 2017 (01/27)
Republican lawmaker questions Cowlitz Tribe's gaming project (01/22)
Cowlitz Tribe closes on financing for long-delayed $550M casino (12/09)
Cowlitz Tribe plans $13.4M wastewater system at casino site (11/13)
BIA formally declares reservation for Cowlitz Tribe casino (11/9)
Cowlitz Tribe already in debt $485M for long-delayed casino bid (10/12)
Cowlitz Tribe turned down Donald Trump for gaming partnership (10/05)
Cowlitz Tribe prepares for groundbreaking on casino in early 2016 (09/30)

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