It’s been hotly anticipated for months, and now a massive new casino in southwest Washington is open, attracting big crowds and lots of buzz.
A steady rain was not stopping thousands of people from coming to the grand opening of Ilani Monday.
The line wrapped around the building, many of the guests came early, prepared to wait with umbrellas over their heads.
After the ceremonial ribbon cutting, it was a stampede inside, complete with drums and glitzy decor, as gaming fans showed great excitement to be a part of something brand-new.
The massive, $510 million complex is located right off of Interstate 5 in La Center. The Cowlitz tribe and other native developers own and operate the nearly 370,000 square foot building that features 2,500 slots and 75 gaming tables, as well several restaurants and bars.
Casio operators are touting it to be the biggest and best in the northwest, and local residents from the area told FOX 12 they are excited to have the casino in their own backyard and that they are very impressed with what they have seen.
“This is totally awesome. This is totally awesome,” Longview resident Leanne Whitcomb said. “I can’t wait. I can’t wait. This is what I like to do.”
One man attending the grand opening came all the way from Arizona to be among the first here to try to get lucky.
“It smells brand-new actually too. I love it, it’s awesome though,” Ezekiel Hunt said. “I’m a casino guy, so if there’s one coming up, I’m there.”
In addition to the massive new gaming area, there’s also a lot of excitement over one of the new restaurants in the casino, Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse.
As big as it is now, Ilani could become bigger in the future.
Developers plan to eventually add more large event spaces. Currently, they can accommodate concerts in a space that hold us to 2,500 people.
Casino operators say they hope to attract some 4.5 million people a year.
All of those guests will mean more traffic in the area, and that impact on the roads was already being seen Monday. Southbound and northbound traffic on I-5 through La Center was backed up for miles, so drivers should be prepared for congestion.
By midday Monday, the casino was reporting that the parking lots were full, though it was still accepting guests being dropped off.
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