Lucky Dog casino back in business

MASON COUNTY: It had closed 10 months ago

July 22, 2010 

SKOKOMISH NATION - The Skokomish Tribe's Lucky Dog Casino, which operates on U.S. Highway 101 north of Shelton, reopened this month after closing 10 months ago.

It opened July 15; it wasn’t immediately clear whether the business will remain open year-round or be seasonal. New general manager David Owens and marketing coordinator Janelle Rutter could not be reached.

The casino closed for the winter because of the recession and cut 120 jobs, including 80 full-time positions, former general manager Nick Phillips told The Olympian last year. Many of those employees commuted from cities such as Olympia and Belfair, and about 10 percent of the staff was American Indian, Phillips said.

“It was just clear that the recession has hurt us,” he said. “We knew personally those customers who lost jobs and couldn’t come in as much, and we have a lot of seniors who are not willing to spend as much discretionary income.”

In addition to the economy, the Lucky Dog Casino faced competition from other tribal casinos in Mason and Thurston counties. The Red Wind, Lucky Eagle and Little Creek casinos have undergone significant expansion projects in recent years.

The Lucky Dog Casino held a job fair last month, attracting 400 applicants for 50 jobs, according to a casino news release. The casino likely generated that many applications because of Mason County’s 9.9 percent unemployment rate, state Employment Security Department data show. The reopened casino also has a redesigned interior with 125 new gaming machines, the news release states.

The Lucky Dog Casino was about the size of a convenience store until 2006, when it underwent a $4 million expansion to enlarge the gaming area, restaurant, lounges and gift shop.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 rboone@theolympian.com www.theolympian.com/bizblog

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