POLSON — S&K Gaming LLC will build a $27.4 million casino in Evaro that will become the new Gray Wolf Peak Casino and Hotel. Another $4.6 million will be used to renovate the KwaTaqNuk Resort and Casino in Polson. Construction will begin in 2015.
Three feasibility studies have supported expansion at Gray Wolf to capture millions in untapped revenue. In Montana-run casinos, bets are limited to $2 and payouts capped at $800. With this expansion, western Montana will receive better access to high-quality gaming entertainment with payouts that regularly reach higher than $500,000.
The expansion is part of an S&K Gaming effort to establish a new gaming and hospitality brand in Western Montana. The KwaTaqNuk has been served well by the Best Western Organization. As Best Western brand-renewal fees came due this fall, S&K Gaming decided to go another direction by pursuing an S&K Gaming brand that better reflects the local community. It’s an exciting time for tribal gaming, entertainment, and hospitality operations.
Since opening in Evaro seven years ago, the existing casino was intended as a temporary structure. The new 40,000 square-foot facility will be the premier destination experience for gaming and hospitality in the region. Gaming machines will more than triple from the current 118 machines. More than 140 new jobs will be created. The hotel will feature 70 rooms, spa amenities, and a new restaurant and lounge. Also coming is an Eagle Bank outlet, an RV Park, and a convenience store built among beautiful natural mountain scenery. The Gray Wolf project will cost an estimated $27.4 million.
Polson-based KwaTaqNuk Resort and Casino, another successful gaming venture operated by S&K Gaming LLC, will receive renovated rooms and an expanded outdoor patio and bar with enhanced infrastructure and environment. These renovations will cost an estimated $4.6 million and will revitalize the Polson resort.
The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, the largest employer in the region, is a fiscally-responsible government that continually seeks out steady revenue streams to sustain the tribal government. CSKT is the sole shareholder of S&K Gaming and will fund both projects and realize a steady return on investment for CSKT. The council appoints members to the gaming board to provide management oversight to the LLC. The tribes have demonstrated success in managing a range of government operations from wildlife and forestry management to overseeing technology companies. CSKT owns and operates a suite of successful business ventures including S&K Electronics, S&K Technologies, Eagle Bank, Flathead Reservation Business Services, and the KwaTaqNuk Resort.
This gaming operation differs from privately-held casinos because it’s organized under the Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which requires all gaming proceeds go to tribal services like elder care, education, family support, cultural activities, language preservation, and other essential services.
Gaming returns have stabilized since CSKT pursued Class II gaming, which operates under federal regulation and provides large jackpots not seen in non-tribal Montana operations. Integrity has been essential to CSKT’s gaming success and that aligns with the tribal goal of economic sustainability and providing for future generations.