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With the notion of economic self-sufficiency for the Puyallup Tribe increasingly becoming a reality after the settlement, the Tribe decided to pursue gaming as a possible solution to its depleting federal revenue.
Similar to other tribes across the United States, the Tribe also viewed bingo as gateway to future forays in the realm of gaming.
Payment for the bingo hall was made possible through monies provided to the Tribe under the Land Claims Settlement. With the bingo hall providing some revenue, plans for utilizing more of the land that the Tribe had acquired under the settlement to support gaming endeavors got underway.
The Tribe proceeded to develop some of its property on the Tacoma waterfront. This property was situated on the Blair Waterway and was highly valuable land, with the Tribe seeing it as an opportunity to pursue a higher form of economic development.
Considering the expansion of casino-level gaming that took place throughout the country after the implementation of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act IGRA , casino development was viewed as a significant means by which the Puyallup Tribe could potentially gain economic independence.
With the possibility of increased gaming revenues, hopes of lifting the community out from underneath a cloud of despair and poverty became more promising.
Just as there had been internal disputes over how to resolve the the land claims, opinions differed greatly among Tribal members as to whether having the Tribe operate a casino on reservation land was a negative or a positive for the Tribe overall.
Many members stood against it on an ethical basis, seeing it as something for which traditions and cultural pathways would be diminished and replaced with materialism.
Some felt that organized crime could become a problem if the casino was built, citing historical examples of such behavior to support their argument.
But other Tribal members considered the casino in a much different light, seeing it as the answer for resolving communal impoverishment.
Some saw it as the only way in which any kind of hope for the future of the Tribe could be achieved. With this diverse range of opinions in the community, a proposal was put forward as to whether a casino would be placed and operated on reservation land.
Although it proved highly controversial, a majority of the Tribal members voted yes, effectively leading to the building of a casino on the Puyallup Reservation.
Viewing the project as a way to employ its membership as well as to seek new forms of revenue development, the Puyallup Tribe opened the Emerald Queen Casino EQC in Built as a paddlewheel riverboat, a majority of the casino structure was placed on the water.
Visitors had the opportunity to participate in a variety of table games and slot machines. The casino's location brought in significant traffic from tourists and visitors to the area, with many coming to view it as a Tacoma landmark.
In , a second, smaller addition to the riverboat casino was opened, as the Emerald Queen Casino I-5, in the building that had housed the Tribe's bingo hall.
The success of the casino operations opened the pathway for self-determination for the Puyallup Tribe, providing the possibility for which full economic development could finally emerge.
The casino not only supported Tribal members, but also extended outside of the Tribal community to help those around them.
The casinos provided around 1, jobs with full benefits for the diverse workforce in the area, soon becoming one of the largest employers in Pierce County.
The casino project also brought business to a variety of local vendors, as the Tribe contracted with local construction firms to build and maintain the casino and conducted financial matters through a local bank, all of which reflected the willingness of the Tribe to support the local community.
The Tribe also gave back considerable shares of its casino profits to local communities, using its newly obtained profits first to help its own members but then also to financially the the larger community.
For Tribal members, much of the casino profits have gone to support social and economic development. This can be seen in a variety of efforts, including the construction of health and dental clinics and financial aid for higher education.
Less than a decade after its opening, the original Emerald Queen Casino ran into a significant dilemma that put its future in jeopardy.
Authorities from the Port of Tacoma announced plans to develop a new container facility on the Blair Waterway for the shipping conglomerate Evergreen.
In order for this construction to occur, the main roadway leading to the EQC would have to be closed. Lawyers representing the Tribe raised the issue that such a closure would not only have a significant impact on casino revenue but would also greatly affect employees working at the casino.
Additionally, since the tribal government had established its administration offices near the EQC, the closure would severely hinder daily operations of the government.
The Port of Tacoma had a strict target date that had to be met for the deal to be kept afloat, a deadline that the Tribe was only informed of months before the target date.
Due to the reliance on the casino economy in sustaining Tribal operations, this placed Tribal officials in a rather difficult position for which they had to hastily come up with a solution.
Another issue to contend with was the legal status of land on which a casino could be operated, which factored into whether the Tribe could build a new casino if the original one were closed.
State officials at the time would only agree to construction of casinos on trust land -- land to which the U.
It opened on July 13, In time the facility was converted to a casino and expanded with the addition of three tents. The riverboat casino was shut down in after the tribe purchased a hotel in Fife and converted it into the present day casino and hotel.
Plans to develop a permanent building to replace the current structure for the Emerald Queen Casino are moving forward. The casino is located in Tacoma and owned by the Puyallup Tribe.
It is expected to be open by December of next year. Located on East 29th Street, there will be a raised buffet and bar that will straddle the street.
Other dining options will include a deli, a cafe that will be open 24 hours, and a sports bar. The casino will be , square feet. An event center will be 21, square feet and be able to accommodate 2, seats for guests.
In the 's the tribe started their gaming industry. During this time period, it was not a financial possibility for them to build a large scale casino.
They purchased a showboat and sailed it along the West Coast to it's new location on the Blair Waterway in a section owned by the tribe.
Until this was the Emerald Queen Casino. When the Blair Waterway under went an expansion project the showboat casino was closed.
A Best Western Hotel in Fife was then converted into the next location for the casino. The Tacoma location was previously used as a bingo hall.
Several new tent structures were added to expand the bingo facility into a casino. This is the current location of the Emerald Queen Casino.