LITTLE BOSTON — The new carpet smell still dominated the air. The lights glowed. The game screens blinked. The neon was paled only in comparison to the beaming faces of casino and tribe officials.
Welcome to “a new era” in gaming in the North End.
The Point No Point Casino, owned and managed by the Port Gamble S’Klallam tribe, opened its doors to the world Thursday. A grand opening gala preceded the 7 p.m. opening to the general public.
Those at the pre-opening party gave pretty much the same starry-eyed review with “this is great.”
There Floyd Jones opened the festivities with a blessing. Tribe and casino officials offered their thoughts on the day and the future.
“I can’t express how important this is to our small tribe,” said Ron Charles, tribe chairman. “When tribe do well and they prosper then neighbors do well too he told a crowd of more than 250 people.
Charles said the casino is a start to improvements the Tribal Council hopes to see on the reservation in the next several years. These could include an expansion of the convenience store and gas station and buying more land.
“There are other projects that we need capital for. This is a good start for us,” Charles said.
Members from Hemisphere LLC who helped get financing for and plan the Point No Point flew in from Chicago and Minnesota to see the finished project.
“This is a big part of a long term plan for the tribe,” said Joe Canfora, president and CEO. The firm specializes in tribal gaming facilities and is helping the Lummi tribe with its new casino.
The 12,000 square foot Point No Point features a lounge with live entertainment Thursday through Saturday, a restaurant, bar and gaming areas.
“It’s a beautiful facility,” Charles said as he gazed around the casino. “We’re really proud of it we think people will like it,” he said.
In between greeting guests and handling last minutes details the casino’s general manager Patricia McFadden said the opening went smoothly.
The excitement intensified minutes before the games begun at 7 p.m.
Lugene Smith of Port Orchard stood by her post at the craps table. With excitement and nervousness she waited for people to file in.
“Its not strenuous. Its fun and fun sounds good,” she said.
Smith is one of about 150 casino employees.
The casino is located just off of Hansville Road and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.