Some 15 years after the initial plans have cropped up, the Puyallup Tribe is on the steady road to finish the Emerald Queen Casino construction, which, according to plans, they’ll complete in December 2019.

According to David Bean, tribal council vice-chairman, the tribe planned to create this grand casino back in the 1990s, but they simply had to prioritize other projects. For instance, they bought a hotel in Fife and building an administration home on the Portland Avenue. Now, they have finally had time and money to put in a $310 million investment into a casino that could go toe to toe with the best Las Vegas ventures out there.

History of the Casino

Back in the 1990s, the Indian Gaming Act became a reality, and Native-American tribes could finally venture into the world of gambling. Back then, according to the casino’s General Manager Frank Wright, the Puyallup Tribe simply didn’t have the money to start with a major casino without getting an outside investment. These investors would usually claim 40% of the profit, something which the tribe didn’t want to deal with. Instead, in 1996, they bought the original Emerald Queen Casino which, back then, was a Mississippi riverboat casino. The tribe brought it to the Tacoma port.

In 2002, they moved the riverboat casino to build a bingo hall which, although raking in profits, didn’t really make them a fortune. The original showboat was in use until 2004, when the tribe turned the hotel in Fife into a casino resort. In time, as the business grew, they were able to expand and form several other structures near the bingo hall. When they came to visit, a lot of people, according to Wright, didn’t realize they were actually in tents. The tribal council identified Tacoma as the tenth fastest-growing city in the United States and, as a result, they were more than happy to further their investment into the city. Tacoma City Council approved the construction plans, and now we’re just a few months away from when the casino opens.

Casino Design

The casino will be the most recognizable feature of the East 29th Street. Some parts of the resort will be elevated above the ground and straddle the whole street. For instance, there will be a bar and buffet area, which will be above the street. Other amenities include a sports bar, a deli, and a cafe open 24 hours.

As for the casino itself, expect to see a massive gaming floor of 310,000 square feet. We don’t know the exact numbers yet, but we expect there to be around 1,600 gaming machines and 56 table games. The size of the poker room is still unknown. Next to the casino, there will be a 21,000-square-foot conference room which will be able to seat 2,000 guests. They also plan to include a spacious parking garage with around 1,300 parking spaces, so you don’t have to worry about whether you’ll have the room to park your car.

The exterior will have a black-and-gray design, as the architects drew inspiration from the traditional tribal baskets of the Puyallup Tribe. In the following year or two, as per council member, they intend to expand the conference room to seat even more people. Additionally, they will add a rooftop restaurant which will provide a breathtaking view of downtown Tacoma and Mount Rainier.


Moreover, that’s not where their investment in this luxurious Washington casino ends. Once they open the casino (reminder: in December 2019), they will work on a hotel which will finish off this resort. The tribe has planned an investment worth $65 million. The hotel will have 3.5 or 4 stars and around 200 rooms. There will also be a spa and wellness center inside the hotel for you to enjoy some relaxing time.

Casino’s Effects on Community

Sitting near Interstate 5, the casino will have high visibility. Despite this, Wright believes Tacoma will not become synonymous with gaming, and people won’t start identifying the city with the casino. However, it sure will become an important asset to the city, as when you drive alongside the I-5, flashy LED signs and the grandiose casino will certainly attract you.

The tribe sees Tacoma as a city with great developing potential. Wright claimed that the supply and demand had been on the rise in multiple sectors. The tribe also wants to give back to the community, and at the same time create a cash flow for themselves. Alongside providing jobs to the locals during the construction and once the casino opens, they have offered the city council to take part in rail construction, and the parking lot will be free of use to all Tacoma residents.

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