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HomeGovernmentBusinessCEO update: Osage Casinos Pawhuska and Bartlesville projects are 80% complete

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CEO update: Osage Casinos Pawhuska and Bartlesville projects are 80% complete

Both casinos will open toward the end of the year and are expected to add about 250 additional jobs to both properties

Construction work continues on the new Osage Casino & Hotel properties at Bartlesville and Pawhuska with those projects now more than 80% complete, according to casino management.

Osage Casinos CEO Kimberly Pearson told the Gaming Enterprise Board on May 24 “We are still roughly sitting at about 82% completion on both projects, we are moving forward as quickly as possible.”

At the prior month’s board meeting, Pearson noted the imported electrical switchgear equipment ordered for both properties had arrived, which was delayed due to the supply chain issues impacting countless construction projects nationwide. Due to the equipment delay, Osage Casinos pushed back the expected opening dates for both casinos to the end of 2023 while other construction activities continued on the buildings.

“Our switchgear has arrived, we are now getting everyone back on board,” Pearson said, noting construction activities with subcontractors will continue that were previously delayed.

Pearson, who has held the CEO position since December 2022, attended the United Osages of Southern California gathering on April 29 for the first time in her post. Also attending with her was Osage Casinos Chief Human Resources Officer Kyle Revard who also gave an overview of his position in overseeing the personnel operations for the seven-casino gaming enterprise.

“I want you guys to know the casinos are doing incredibly well, I have now been with the casino for over 15 years and I remember the first annual plan that I ever did and it was a big deal in that moment to contribute $19 million to the Nation (for government operations),” Pearson told the UOSC gathering attendees. “In the last five years, we have taken distributions from $45 million to $63 million and next (fiscal) year, we are projected to do $68 million.”

In addition to providing much of the Nation’s government funding from casino gaming, Pearson noted other activities done to support the Nation. “During that same timeframe, we helped the Nation acquire the ranch (in a 2016 auction) with a $74 million loan and paid it off in five years. We also went into the expansion of Tulsa (casino and hotel), which is our flagship property with an entirely new casino. Prior to that, we were in a pre-fab building and it had really gone to its end-of-life and we needed to make some changes there.”

Pearson discussed the Tulsa casino and hotel expansion project, which was completed and opened in 2018 with one hotel tower and a second one was later built to keep up with hotel room demand. “That was a $189 million expansion and we paid that off in four years,” she said.

As for the Pawhuska and Bartlesville projects, Pearson noted the supply and chain issues, which were a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic that disrupted countless lives across the country. “One of the crazy things for us in Oklahoma (when planning the project) was when our construction company came back to us and said ‘Amazon has purchased every single piece of steel almost throughout the entire world’ and we had to stop everything we were doing and redesign our casinos with a different type of steel product,” Pearson said.

“Then we got into a supply chain issue with our electrical switchgear – you can’t run a casino without electrical switchgear – so our projects have been delayed, but we knew this movie was coming out,” Pearson said referring to the October 2023 release of the Martin Scorsese-directed film “Killers of the Flower Moon” and the crucial timing of opening the two new casinos with expected increases in tourist crowds.

Revard said when the Pawhuska and Bartlesville casinos open, “We’re looking at adding 250 employees at those properties.”  “So we are back on track now and hopeful to open our two new properties by the end of the year. I will tell you I am doing everything in my power, I am like a whipping horse right now to get our properties open as soon as possible,” Pearson said. “We want to be ready for this movie, we think it’s going to be tremendous and we definitely want to be a part of that.”

Author

  • Benny Polacca

    Title: Senior Reporter

    Email: bpolacca@osagenation-nsn.gov

    Instagram: @bpolacca

    Topic Expertise: Government, Tribal Government, Community

    Languages spoken: English, basic knowledge of Spanish and French

    Benny Polacca (Hopi/ Havasupai/ Pima/ Tohono O’odham) started working at the Osage News in 2009 as a reporter in Pawhuska, Okla., where he’s covered various stories and events that impact the Osage Nation and Osage people. Those newspaper contributions cover a broad spectrum of topics and issues from tribal government matters to features. As a result, Polacca has gained an immeasurable amount of experience in covering Native American affairs, government issues and features so the Osage readership can be better informed about the tribal current affairs the newspaper covers.

    Polacca is part of the Osage News team that was awarded the Native American Journalists Association's Elias Boudinet Free Press Award in 2014 and has won numerous NAJA media awards, as well as awards from the Oklahoma Press Association and SPJ Oklahoma Pro Chapter, for storytelling coverage and photography.

    Polacca earned his bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and also participated in the former American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota where he was introduced to the basics of journalism and worked with seasoned journalists there and later at The Forum daily newspaper covering the Fargo, N.D. area where he worked as the weeknight reporter.

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Benny Polacca
Benny Polaccahttps://osagenews.org

Title: Senior Reporter

Email: bpolacca@osagenation-nsn.gov

Instagram: @bpolacca

Topic Expertise: Government, Tribal Government, Community

Languages spoken: English, basic knowledge of Spanish and French

Benny Polacca (Hopi/ Havasupai/ Pima/ Tohono O’odham) started working at the Osage News in 2009 as a reporter in Pawhuska, Okla., where he’s covered various stories and events that impact the Osage Nation and Osage people. Those newspaper contributions cover a broad spectrum of topics and issues from tribal government matters to features. As a result, Polacca has gained an immeasurable amount of experience in covering Native American affairs, government issues and features so the Osage readership can be better informed about the tribal current affairs the newspaper covers.

Polacca is part of the Osage News team that was awarded the Native American Journalists Association's Elias Boudinet Free Press Award in 2014 and has won numerous NAJA media awards, as well as awards from the Oklahoma Press Association and SPJ Oklahoma Pro Chapter, for storytelling coverage and photography.

Polacca earned his bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and also participated in the former American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota where he was introduced to the basics of journalism and worked with seasoned journalists there and later at The Forum daily newspaper covering the Fargo, N.D. area where he worked as the weeknight reporter.

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