Thousands visit southwest Washington casino for grand opening - KPTV - FOX 12

Thousands visit southwest Washington casino for grand opening

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LA CENTER, WA (KPTV) -

A massive casino that has been more than a decade in the making finally opened its doors in southwest Washington on Monday. 

Since 10 a.m. Monday, people kept pouring in. The more than $500 million casino called Ilani is located right off Interstate 5 near La Center. 

Air 12 video showed just how backed up I-5 was Monday as people tried to check out the grand opening. 

“We left home at six and we didn’t get here until eight and we only live right across the bridge,” said Cindy Mosney. 

Besides a gaming floor of more than 100,000 square feet, the casino offers guests shops, bars, and restaurants. 

“We checked out Michael Jordan’s,” said Rebecca Brown. “Excellent food.” 

The Cowlitz Indian Tribe is behind Ilani. The tribe faced some hurdles before opening its doors, like pushback from much smaller casinos in La Center. 

“Eighteen years it has taken to make this a reality and it’s here now,” said llani founder Dave Barnett. “From the size of the crowds, people are loving it.” 

People FOX 12 spoke with Monday said they were loving it. 

“I’m 87 years old, so I need something to do,” said Clara Ottosen. 

They also said the casino can only be a good thing for the area. 

“Income coming in, revenue, entertainment,” said Vicki Ottosen. 

With an estimated 10,000 people and counting visiting on Monday, casino officials called the opening a success. 

“I’ll be back,” said Mosney. 

Clara Ottosen said, “I’ll be back Wednesday with another bunch.”

Besides traffic issues, the casino’s more than 3,000 parking spots also filled up Monday. 

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