Cherokee Nation opens its Catoosa casino

Wednesday, September 8th 2004, 5:43 am
By: News On 6

It's being billed by the Cherokee Nation as the Tulsa area's first resort destination. Wednesday is the much-anticipated opening for the $80-million Cherokee Casino in Catoosa.

And they gave their employees and News on 6 business reporter Steve Berg a sneak peek inside.

Their goal was to create the best in the state, but in doing so, they might have leap-frogged many of the Nevada casinos as well. If you've ever been to Vegas, you'll see dazzling decor at the Cherokee Casino that rivals some of the best on the strip.

David Stewart with Cherokee Nation Enterprises. The glass in the chandeliers is from Italy, most of the wood is imported from Brazil, so there are a lot of things inside the facility that you don't know are there that make it exquisite.”

Cherokee Nation Chief Chad Smith: "Well I think one of the most fascinating things is how the architects bridged the art deco from Tulsa as a bridge to Catoosa and integrated Cherokee artwork, it's just amazing."

You can't miss the huge, stained-glass star in the middle of the casino, but you might miss its significance, it's the same seven-pointed star that's the symbol of the Cherokee Nation and its seven clans. The hotel rooms are plush, conference room’s sparkle, and entertainment greets you at every turn. You have a generous array of choices at the buffet, steaks at the latest branch of famed Tulsa restaurant McGill's, drinks at the piano bar or the dance bar.

They say their message is a simple one; we're not a bingo hall anymore. Chad Smith: "We've got a great golf course, a super hotel, the gaming facilities are very nice, what we want to be known for is the best customer service in Oklahoma."

David Stewart: "We're in the entertainment business and Tulsa needs someplace to go that has all the amenities we offer, and they currently don't so we've filled that gap."

The Cherokee Nation has hired 700 people in just the past 6 months to staff this casino. They employ nearly 2,000 at all of their casino operations.