Big plans for the Cherokee Casino in Catoosa, now that State Question 712 has passed

Wednesday, November 3rd 2004, 10:28 am
By: News On 6

Casinos won big in Tuesday night's election. State Question 712 passed by a large margin, reopening the door to some card games, some new types of slot machines, and slot machines at horse tracks.

News on 6 business reporter Steve Berg visited the Cherokee Casino in Catoosa and says it’s already big, and now that 712 has passed, they plan on getting bigger. Given the sometimes controversial nature of gambling in Oklahoma, Cherokee Enterprises President David Stewart says they were even happier that the gaming question passed by such a wide margin. "I think the vote indicated that people like what we're doing here, it's a good form of entertainment, we're here to stay. So I think they've embraced what we're doing here."

And they'll be doing more. 712 will let them bring back blackjack, and other card games like Texas Hold 'Em. Stewart says the added variety will broaden the casino's appeal. "Y'know I think it's going to be significant. There's a lot of people that played blackjack here about a year ago; those people are dying to come back.”

Now that the gaming question has passed, the casino has the confidence to move forward with renovation plans, to make the old casino look like the new casino. It'll take about 6 months and roughly double the size. The card games will eventually take up residence in the renovated part of the building, although they'll offer cards in the existing building as early as March.

The new games will also require new employees. "We're going to start our card-dealing school in February, so we'll have a mass hiring again." They plan to add 500 more workers to the 2,000 they already have.

And some estimates say the gaming will add $71-million per year to the state's education budget.