Final beam tops off Pocola casino
Topping out celebration held to signify final milestone in casino expansion
By LARISSA COPELAND Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma
POCOLA, Okla. – A “topping out” ceremony was held Oct. 9 at the Choctaw Casino in Pocola with the placing of the final structural beam, symbolically marking the last phase of major construction on the expansion.
Janie Dillard, executive director of gaming, and the Choctaw Tribal Council welcomed tribal and casino management, representatives from Manhattan Construction and the Worth Group Architects, as well as the members of the construction teams and numerous other guests, to join them in signing the final beam before it was hoisted into place high atop the newly expanded Choctaw Casino Hotel addition.
“This is another milestone for the Choctaw Nation,” said Dillard. “It’s a great feeling.”
Shannon McDaniel, who stood in for Chief Pyle, said of the occasion, “[Chief Pyle] appreciates the construction teams and everyone here on the ground, and all those behind the scene making this happen, helping us realize our dream.”
He continued, saying the expansion is a benefit to both tribal members and to members of the surrounding Pocola area. “By doing [the expansion] it’s helping our tribal members and that’s what it’s all about. But, as you can see with this, it’s helping everyone in the area by giving back to the economy.”
The way it helps the economy is in the form of jobs. Dillard explained that additional personnel will be hired to support this expanded property, anticipating more than 350 new employees at the casino by the end of construction.
“The impact the Pocola Casino does to this area on a yearly basis with salaries alone is $11 million with just the 500 employees it has now,” said Dillard. “But we are going to almost double that employee count in 2013.” And that means almost doubling the salary flowing back into the local area as well, she says. “That says a lot about what the Choctaw Nation does and brings to these economies.”
The construction at the casino is being done in two phases and is scheduled to be completed by May 2013. The result will be 150,000 square feet of gaming, entertainment, dining, and lodging space at the casino.
The first phase is set to be completed by December and will include new gaming options with a larger slot floor, a high-limit gaming area and a 12-table pit in addition to the current games already offered. The casino will also offer a new restaurant, lounge and gift shop.
Phase II has a scheduled completion date in spring 2013 and includes a hotel with 118 guest rooms and 12 suites, a 600-space parking garage, a restaurant/entertainment space and an updated Centerstage multipurpose event room.
The Pocola Casino is one of eight operated by the tribe. For more information visit www.choctawcasinos.com.