After six years of working together to run ilani Casino Resort in Washington, just north of Vancouver, the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and the Connecticut-based Mohegan Tribe will end their partnership next year.
The Cowlitz Tribe enlisted the help of the Mohegan Tribe to launch and manage the casino starting in 2017. And, now, in July 2024, the Cowlitze Tribe will assume full management of the property.
According to an article by The Columbian, Cowlitz Indian Tribe Chairwoman Patty Kinswa-Gaiser said in a statement:
“After careful consideration, the Cowlitz Tribal Gaming Authority has recommended, and the Cowlitz Tribal Council has approved, a decision to begin a multi-step process of transitioning ilani from an enterprise managed by the Mohegan Tribe to a self-managed enterprise.”
What’s ahead for ilani Casino in Washington?
According to the Cowlitz tribe, not much will change over the next 15 months. Mohegan will continue to provide management services for the occasion. ilani leadership and staff will stay in place.
Next year, Cowlitz will take over management of the casino. Kinswa-Gaiser said that the transition to self-management of the casino is a natural part of the process. The Mohegan Tribe showed the Cowlitz the casino management ropes. Over the past six years, the Cowlitz has eased into shared management responsibilities.
And, as was the plan, the tribe will overtake total control of the casino’s management. The two tribes will continue their partnership in other partnerships and initiatives, although the Cowlitz gave no specifics. Kinswa Gaiser continued:
“We are forever grateful for the remarkable success and benefits this partnership has brought our tribal members and the Cowlitz community since ilani opened its doors in 2017. We raise our hands to the Mohegan Tribe and will continue the standard of excellence they brought to ilani.”
Mohegan tribe offers support as Cowlitz plans for self-management
In a statement from Mohegan Gaming, Mohegan CEO Raymond Pineault said the tribe is “proud” of the help they offered the Cowlitz Tribe.
“We support the self-determination of any Tribal nation, and while we had hoped to continue our partnership as we thought we had more to offer the Cowlitz people, we are committed to aiding a smooth transition,” Pineault said.
ilani is one of 35 casinos that federally recognized tribes operate in the state of Washington. The ilani casino is the only one in the southwest region of the state.
Since its launch in 2017, the casino opened a sportsbook in October of last year and has contributed to the tribes’ thriving casino industry.
Casinos in the state support more than 35,000 jobs. Additionally, they have a more than $5 billion economic impact each year, according to the American Gaming Association.