The doors to the new Shoshone Rose Casino were opened Sept. 30 at the soft-opening event welcoming hundreds of community members to the ribbon-cutting celebration.
The public was invited to participate in the blessing and drum songs before the first customers entered the new gaming floor. The $30 million expansion includes a 61-room hotel with an indoor heated pool and hot tub.
Shoshone Business Council chairman Darwin St. Clair Jr. said the rooms that are available for use are already booked, which he credited in part to the successful marketing they have been doing prior to the soft opening.
Just outside the pool area is a fire pit with a seating venue. The casino has a snack bar, non-alcoholic bar, gift shop, and coat check-in station. The expansion connects to the existing casino and restaurant Deka Guy Hee, which is attached to a new enclosed fire pit seating section with the views of the Wind River Mountain Range.
The SBC was going for an upscale, state-of-the-art feel when they were helping design the expansion, St. Clair said.
"We were going for an elegant facility," he said. "It wasn't going to be just a tin box."
St. Clair said the suites and "chairman's room" were made to be "really nice," accommodating and provide a great view of the mountains.
The entrance itself is large and heavily built. The wood used to build the wooden canopy comes from the surrounding mountain area, St. Clair said.
Although smoking is permitted inside the facility, St. Clair said a state-of-the-art ventilation system will suck in all the cigarette smoke and prevent the casino from smelling "like a cigarette."
"We're offering a really nice place to stay at," St. Clair said. "The hotel is meant to bring more people here."
The expansion had an original finish date of May of 2016 but the timeline was extended for additional work.
"We tried to use as many local businesses as possible," he said, including tribal workers.
Every hotel room also displays photographs taken by local tribal members.
The soft opening comes a few months after Sheila Matt was hired as the new general manager.
"I love it here," Matt said.
Matt was previously the chief executive officer for S&K Gaming of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in Western Montana.
"We're bringing unique games to the floor that nobody else in the state has," she added.
They're working with local tourism services to promote the surrounding area, she noted, and make it a top notch facility. She also mentioned that additional customer service training was provided to employees to have exceptional customer service at the new casino.
Still to be completed is the landscaping and indoor pool. Those features should be done by the grand opening scheduled for Oct. 14, also when all 425 gambling machines are fully installed.
The loan to fund the project was provided by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community of Minnesota. The original casino celebrated its ninth anniversary on Sept. 17.