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Expansion at Shoshone's casino could add 200 jobs

Apr 12, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

Business leaders think a planned expansion of the Shoshone Rose Casino would be a positive development for the local economy.

A written request for proposal said the new facility would cost $38 million and include a 100-room hotel at the site four miles northwest of Lander on the Wind River Indian Reservation. The new complex would be 165,000 square feet and include 700 slot machines and game tables, an entertainment room of 750 seats, an indoor water park, three restaurants and a bar or lounge area.

The current facility has 300 games and one restaurant.The Lander-based economic development organization LEADER learned more about the project in a Wednesday meeting.

"Any time you ... have more people coming through, it's good for business," Lander Area Chamber of Commerce executive director Scott Goetz said. "The more people going to our events, the more people walking on Main Street."

LEADER co-president Bill Sniffin said Eastern Shoshone tribal leaders and representatives of the casino had planned to attend the April 10 meeting, but a scheduling conflict arose.

Jobs

Casino management expects the project to add 150 to 200 jobs to the 125 the Shoshone Rose provides already.

"If they grow to the size of Wind River (Casino), that is another $20 million payroll into our economy, and that'll create a lot of spill over," Wyoming Business Council regional director Roger Bower said.

Owned by the Northern Arapaho Tribe, the Wind River Casino employs about 700 people and sits two miles south of Riverton.

Bower said if the Shoshone Rose gives its employees a health care plan like the Wind River Casino does, the expansion will bring a boost to the local medical economy.

If the casino expansion happens along with four energy projects planned for the county in the next several years, Fremont County will see a housing crunch and a labor shortage, Bower said.

The energy projects combined would bring about 1,100 jobs, he said.

Hotels

Goetz cautioned that some of Lander's smaller hotels may struggle to compete with the new lodging facility.

He said the new casino hotel would not have to pay the lodging tax other hotels and motels in the county do.

Revenue from the lodging tax goes to a joint powers board that distributes it to different parts of the county to fund tourism promotion, he said.

If the reservation hotel participated voluntarily in the lodging tax, Goetz said it could share in the funds generated and have representatives on the joint powers board.

"Some businesses are going to fail and some are going to make a lot of money if they learn how to work with (the expanded casino)," Bower said.

Time frame

The deadline for bids is April 22, and construction would start in June and end a year later, according to the request for proposal.

"It's a very ambitious plan," Sniffin said.

Civil engineer Jeff Young of Trihydro Corporation said he worked on the current Shoshone Rose Casino and has designed buildings in the area for 18 years.

"I'm not sure how they can be so aggressive with the schedule when they don't have the design team together," he said. "There's somebody out there that has the answers to all these questions."

Design development and construction development typically take six months each, Young said.

"In a traditional design-bid-build you will have a year before you go out and get a bid," he said.

Young said infrastructure for water utilities at the site are already sufficient, but sewer capacity is not. Adding sewer infrastructure would further complicate planning.

The new complex could reuse a design from an existing facility, he said, shortening the design time.

Tribal leaders reached by telephone before the meeting would not comment on how the project is moving forward or on its details.