E. Idaho tribes plan to build 2 new casinos

Fort Hall, Idaho (AP) – The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes in southeastern Idaho plan to build two new casinos on the Fort Hall Reservation, officials said.

„Idaho is one of the fastest-growing states in the country, and tourism is growing in southeast Idaho,“ Richard Kutch, a member of the Fort Hall Business Council, told the Idaho State Journal. „The tribes want to capitalize on that.“

Groundbreaking for the first casino, the Blackfoot Satellite C-Store Casino near exit 89 of Interstate 15 on the Fort Hall Reservation, is planned for May 15 with completion expected in September.

The project is expected to cost up to USD 5 million and will be paid for by the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, Kutch said.

The second casino, being described as a resort casino, is planned near exit 80 near an existing tribal casino. Kutch said the project will cost USD 80 million to USD 90 million and that the tribes‘ Business Council plans to meet with potential investors Friday to raise money.

The first phase of construction is expected to start in 2009 on a 200-room hotel, up to four restaurants, a retail store, convention center and casino. The second phase would include a water park and golf course, and could be finished by 2011.

The tribes have hired general contractor Kraus and Anderson of Minneapolis, Minn., for the project.

Once the new casino is finished, the current casino will be converted into a community center, Kutch said.

„We feel that this is going to be a very lucrative project for the tribes,“ said Nathan Small, also a member of the Business Council. „The ripple effects will be to the entire region. The dollar is being turned over more than ever.“

When finished, the new casinos will increase the number of gaming machines by 50 percent to 1,300, said Liberty Toledo, a casino spokeswoman.

Construction of the new casinos is expected to create thousands of jobs in the region, and once finished will add about 300 new jobs for Shoshone-Bannock tribal members.

Adam Hill, a member of the Business Council, said the casinos will help the tribes diversify from their agricultural economy.

„We hope each and every member can see that we’re looking out for the future,“ Hill said.