Montana Tribal Casino Authorized to Relocate to Annexed Land in Polson

Posted on: August 11, 2023, 12:45h. 

Last updated on: August 11, 2023, 12:45h.

A Montana tribal casino currently located on the banks of Polson Bay has been approved to relocate a little more than a mile west to a 79-acre parcel of land recently annexed by the tribe to the local city.

Montana tribal casino Kwataqnuk resort
The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, which own and operate the Kwataqnuk Resort & Casino in Montana, has gained approval to relocate its boutique casino to a new standalone facility about a mile west of the current resort. The Montana tribal casino presently offers just 200 slot machines. (Image: TripAdvisor)

The City of Polson in Montana requires annexation for all properties as a requirement for connection to municipal services such as water and sewage. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes recently petitioned the Polson City Commission for the annexation of 79 acres for a new standalone casino, a low-cost residential housing community, an RV park, and a visitors center.

The annexed land is west of Polson via the Polson Bridge across the Flathead River. The project land is north of the Polson Airport just south of the intersection of Highway 922 and Irvine Flats Road.

The tribe wants to separate its casino space from its current tribal casino — the Kwataqnuk Flathead Lake Resort & Casino. Tribal officials are seeking to make the lakefront resort more appealing to families.

Moving the casino across the Polson Bridge to a separate site will significantly reduce smoke from the resort and allow the tribe to bring new, more family-friendly amenities to the property.

Casino Move Approved

The Polson City Commission this week voted 6-1 in favor of annexing the tribal land to allow the new casino, housing community, RV park, and visitors center to connect to the municipal services. Commissioner Tony Isbell was the lone dissenting vote, who voiced concerns about traffic via the Polson Bridge.

The six other city commissioners favored the project on grounds that annexing the tribal land is part of the town’s commitment to being “good neighbors” with the tribe, said Commissioner Brodie Moll.

“The growth will be beneficial for all of us,” added Commissioner Carolyn Pardini. “We have to move forward.”

The tribe’s proposed casino is a standalone, 25,000-square-foot structure.

“Moving the casino we have now out of the resort allows the resort to focus on family-friendly things,” Daniel Hansen, CEO of S&K Gaming, the tribes’ gaming unit, told the Polson City Commission. “Moving the casino to the outskirts of town also allows us to focus on the casino as a business instead of a resort amenity.”

A smattering of slots will remain at Kwataqnuk, but tribal officials say no smoking will be allowed. Hansen said the tribe believes that’s step one in making the resort more appealing to families.

Resort Overhaul

The primary economic engine of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, the Kwataqnuk Resort & Casino, in addition to the casino, offers about 100 guestrooms, two restaurants and bars, and 5,000 square feet of meeting space.

Kwataqnuk guests during the summer months enjoy an array of water sports, and in the winter, skiing excursions are nearby in the Montana wilderness.

As for making the resort more appealing to families, the tribe says it will focus on bringing the Indian National Finals Rodeo to town and the property’s annual “Rock the Dock” summer outdoor concert series.

Additional family-friendly attractions will be later announced.