|By Debbie Blossom, The Oklahoman,
Oklahoma CityMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
February 10, 2010 --DURANT -- The latest, most elaborate expansion at the Choctaw Nation's casino in this southern Oklahoma town was celebrated Tuesday during a grand opening ceremony.
Besides adding about 1,000 new jobs, the $300 million expansion to the Choctaw Casino Resort added 3,000 slot machines, 30 poker tables and 38 table games into 110,000 square feet of gaming space, a multistory, 330-room hotel, an indoor/outdoor pool, fitness center and a full-service spa.
The resort -- at 4418 Highway 69, four miles south of Durant -- has several dining options, from a four-venue food court to a 400-seat buffet and several restaurants including a steakhouse and Tex-Mex eatery.
The first accolades began pouring in after the resort's soft opening last Friday, said Tammye Gwin, senior director of gaming.
"It's been wonderful, everybody is awestruck," she said.
"People just don't expect it to be so nice."
Visitors so far have been amazed with the architectural details, and one of the biggest attractions is a buffalo sculpture created from glass tiles and an hourly light show showcased in a waterfall, she said.
Construction partners on the project are Flintco Inc. and WorthGroup Architects.
'Nothing else like it' Durant already has benefited from the casino's presence, and the impact will grow with the expansion, said Tommy Kramer, executive director of the Durant Industrial Authority.
"There's really nothing else like it in Oklahoma," said Kramer, who toured the casino Friday. "It's breathtaking."
The resort is the largest project in Durant, and the largest investment in a building during his more than two decades on the job, Kramer said.
"It's a paramount project providing jobs for more than 1,000 people," he added.
Kramer couldn't project the economic impact of the expansion on the city.
The Choctaw Casino Resort opened in 1987 as Choctaw Bingo, but was enlarged and renovated in 2006.
But demand for casino gaming, from Texas customers as well as Oklahomans, spurred the tribe to take on the latest expansion project less than two years later, gaming director Janie Dillard has said.
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