We see a lot of people staying in Oklahoma and coming to our place, said David Stewart, the CEO of Cherokee Nation Enterprises, which manages the entertainment and retail operations of the nation. We're just going to go to the casino, and we can do that for much less, dollar for dollar, on the amenity. Also, we don't have to spend a couple thousand dollars on airplane tickets.
Tribal gambling in Oklahoma is big business, generating nearly $2.5 billion in revenue last year. The figure ranks the state behind only California and Connecticut, according to the Casino City's Indian Gaming Industry Report, released in August.
The report also found that Oklahoma was one of only eight states to see double-digit growth in tribal gambling revenue in 2007.
More than 30 tribes operated 101 gambling operations in Oklahoma in 2007, up five facilities than the previous year, the report found.
Some recent casino expansions in Oklahoma:
WinStar World Casino in Thackerville is expanding from 183,000 square feet to 519,000 square feet of space.
The Cherokee Casino Resort in Catoosa is undergoing a $125 million expansion that will add a hotel tower with upscale suites, nightclub, an event and concert arena and convention hall, among other amenities.
The Wichita and Affiliated Tribes plan to open a casino near Hinton in western Oklahoma on a five-acre tract near Interstate 40.
In July, the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma's Downstream Casino Resort opened along Interstate 44 at the juncture of Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas.
The Muscogee (Creek) Nation is building a new casino in south Tulsa. The first phase, estimated to cost about $160 million, is expected to be done by early next year.