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Spokane Tribal Casino Resort Announces Expansion Plans, But Convention Center on Hold

A tribal casino resort near Spokane, Washington, is moving forward with its expansion plans, but a previously announced convention center will remain on hold.

A new hotel tower is coming to the Northern Quest Resort & Casino outside Spokane, Washington. (Image: Northern Quest)

Northern Quest Resort & Casino, owned and operated by the Kalispel Tribe, says it’s expanding the property with a new 160,000-square-foot hotel tower. The expansion will include 190 additional guestrooms, bringing the casino resort’s total number of rooms to 440.

“While 2020 has been a difficult year for the hospitality industry, we continue to weather the storm and look toward to the future,” explained Nick Pierre, Northern Quest general manager.

For the past several years, we’ve been running at consistently high occupancy in our hotel, and while meetings and events business has taken a big hit in the past eight months, we are confident things will bounce back in the coming months and years, returning us to the kind of demand we were seeing in 2019 and early 2020,” Pierre added.

The tribe did not disclose how much the expansion will cost.

Northern Quest Resort & Casino opened in late 2000. Today, the casino, located approximately 15 minutes west of downtown Spokane, offers more than 1,600 slot machines, 37 table games, and a smoke-free poker room.

No Conventions, For Now

The new hotel tower at Northern Quest will be built just west of the current hotel structure. The new guestrooms will be connected to the main resort via a skywalk.

The tribe’s master plans for the casino resort call for the inclusion of 30,000 square feet of convention space. But that addition is being put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The tribe says a future decision on the convention center will be made “depending on the demand for groups and meetings in the coming months and years.”

“Since the Kalispel Tribe opened Northern Quest in 2000, we have had a history of making calculated investment decisions,” said Kalispel Tribal Economic Authority Chief Operating Officer Phil Haugen.

“We broke ground on the original Northern Quest hotel in 2008, during the largest recession this country has seen in recent years,” Haugen added. “We are proud to say that project proved to be a huge success for the Tribe.”

The tribe expects construction to begin on the expansion in March of 2021 and open in 2023.

Not Limited by State Government

The fall surge of coronavirus cases is here, and it’s resulted in numerous state governors ordering commercial casinos to shutter. Indian casinos, however, are free to continue operating should their own sovereign leaders deem it appropriate.

Northern Quest caused some controversy in May when it decided to reopen amid the early onset of the pandemic. The Kalispel Tribe had closed Northern Quest, as well as its other owned and operated gaming venue, Kalispel Casino, in mid-March.

The two Kalispel Tribe casinos are currently operating at 50 percent capacity, and employees and guests must wear face coverings while inside. The casinos are also observing social distancing practices “whenever possible.”

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