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New Choctaw Nation casino set to open in Durant

DURANT, Okla. (AP) _ The Choctaw Nation plans to open its largest-ever casino on Wednesday, tribal officials said.

The 150,000-member tribe will officially open the new gaming site to the public at 10 a.m.

Situated along U.S. 69, the new casino is part of a 50-acre development that includes a rodeo arena, coliseum and hotel.

``Every day this week, we've had people trying to come in because they see the cars here and they think we're open,'' said Judy Allen, a tribal spokeswoman.

The new 108,844-square-foot casino contains 1,426 gaming machines, some compacted and some older machine varieties.

A total of 32 blackjack tables and a poker room with 18 poker tables are also in place. An off-track betting site completes the gaming package, offering 100 television-operated betting stations.

The casino also boasts the first gaming floor with ticket-in, ticket-out technology, where players' cash-out tickets can be reinserted into any gaming machine on the floor.

Tribal officials said they want the new casino to be an entertainment mecca. Toward that goal, many amenities have been added to hotel suites and gaming machines.

``The clientele we hope to attract is looking for a Las Vegas destination-type setting,'' said Janie Dillard, the Choctaws' executive director of gaming. ``We've put a lot of thought and process in this. We want this to be a scene in Durant to just wow you.''

A Chahta gift shop, Starbucks coffee shop and two cafes are additional offerings the tribe was eager to incorporate into the new facility.

The casino is one of eight gaming sites the tribe operates within its 10-county jurisdictional area in southeastern Oklahoma.

The tribe uses nearly 40 percent of gaming revenues to fund tribal social programs, officials said.
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