SKIATOOK, Okla. – The wait is over for gaming patrons and visitors who frequent this southeastern Osage County community: The Osage Casino Hotel is open for business.
Amid the recent snow and freezing temperatures, Osage Nation and casino officials hosted a Dec. 9 ribbon cutting ceremony for the ON Gaming Enterprise’s first of two casino and hotel properties built this year. The tribe will also open an Osage Casino Hotel at its Ponca City location on Dec. 23.
A crowd of approximately 40 people gathered in the foyer portion of the Skiatook Osage Casino Hotel for the ribbon cutting ceremony and opening remarks from tribal and local officials. The foyer is where incoming patrons are literally steps away from checking into the three-story 33-room hotel on the left, eating in the Fiery Grille restaurant straight ahead or gambling in the 78,000 square-foot casino on the right.
Officials on hand complimented the tribe’s latest business venture and expressed appreciation for the teamwork efforts used to build the property in nearly 14 months. A September 2012 groundbreaking ceremony was held for the casino at the same location just west of the former Skiatook Osage Casino, which opened in fall 2007. The smaller first casino will be removed like the former Skiatook Travel Plaza was last year.
“The project is a culmination of much hard work,” said Osage Casinos CEO Neil Cornelius. “We are very proud of the work we’ve done here, we enjoy a tremendous sense of accomplishment.”
The Gaming Enterprise hired Las Vegas-based Marnell Architecture firm, which has casino and hotel resort experience and Texas-based owner representation firm Square One to manage the building project with Tulsa-based Osage Manhattan Builders working on the construction.
ON Assistant Principal Chief Scott BigHorse delivered the opening prayer at the event and also praised the completion of the new casino property. “All you have to do is just look around and it just makes you soar with pride,” he said.
Of the opening day, Cornelius said: “It’s kind of a late Thanksgiving, early Christmas gift and certainly a reason to celebrate the new year.” He also said: “It’s a quality structure very well done on time, within budget and it did not meet our expectations – it far exceeded our expectations, so we’re just delighted with the way it’s worked out.”
The hotel features 31 guest rooms with both king and double queen-sized bed options, two guest suites and three rooms designed for handicapped guests. It also features a fitness center, heated swimming pool, breakfast dining area and meeting room and convention space.
Joe Olujic, chief operations officer for Osage Casinos, said “the facility will prove to be a valuable asset to the tribe for many, many years to come – it will provide a great working environment for our employees, it will also provide needed amenities to the city of Skiatook to utilize and the surrounding communities and businesses as well.”
The Skiatook casino employee count will increase from 54 to 179, according to the casino.
Olujic said the new casino, which will be open 24 hours a day, currently has 304 electronic games along with six table games.
The facility has two bars with one in the lobby and The Tin Pint sports bar, which features 12 separate TV screens to watch sporting events and a tap to serve 12 different beers, Olujic said.
Olujic said the facility has a full-service conference room space that can seat up to 200 people for dining events.
On the east edge is the Osage Convenience store, which will be open 24/7 and referred to as “OC” for short, Olujic said. The OC store sells drinks, snack food, tobacco products and other typical convenience store merchandise such as toiletries and automotive items.
The OC features eight fueling stations that can serve 16 vehicles with fuel.
Skiatook Mayor Randy Sien thanked the Nation for its “longstanding relationship,” which includes partnerships where the Nation provided a head start facility and funding for road and park projects, as well as a forthcoming regional health clinic.
Sien said the facility is especially welcomed to the community because Skiatook currently does not have hotel lodging. He believes the facility will be a convenience especially in the warmer months for locals and visitors who frequent nearby Lake Skiatook.
“I want to thank the Osage Nation for bringing this to Skiatook and letting us be a part of it and for the fine facility they built,” Sien said.
See more Osage News photos taken of the Skiatook Osage Casino Hotel on the newspaper's Flickr page. The photo set link is: http://www.flickr.com/photos/osagenews/sets/72157638557632993/