TRIBAL LEADERS – Casino Player Magazine | Strictly Slots Magazine

Who would have thought a small legal battle over bingo would give rise to a multi-billion-dollar Indian gaming industry

By Karrie L. Zukowski


The growth of Native American casinos has been a dramatic, hardfought and exciting one. Such growth has brought the thrill of gambling and the casino lifestyle to the masses in a way nobody could have guessed. A small legal battle over bingo in the mid-’80s would give rise to a multi-billion- dollar Indian gaming industry. And now, where you once had to plan an extended trip to visit a casino, for millions of gamblers there’s one within easy driving distance. Here is an in-depth description of some of the top tribal casinos across the country.


Coushatta Casino Resort Kinder, LA

Experience the thrills and excitement of the largest gaming floor in the region, featuring the games you like, the jackpots you love, and the personal service you deserve. Step into Coushatta Casino Resort in Kinder, Louisiana. From slots to table games to championship golf, this property has something for everyone—including some of the loosest slots in the region, as certified by Strictly Slots magazine.

A premier casino destination and a player favorite, with 22 Best of Slots awards in this year’s pole, this property is owned by the Coushatta Tribe and features 100,000 square feet of casino space with 2,800 slots and more than 65 table games. Opened in 1995, Coushatta caters to both Louisianans and Texans across the border. Table game offerings include blackjack, roulette, craps (with 20x odds), pai gow poker, three-card poker, and more. The 20-table poker room offers plenty of action including numerous games, stakes, promotions, and tournaments. Need even more action? Head to the off-track betting or bingo pavilion Wednesday through Sunday for big fun and a shot at big bucks.

Coushatta also offers the best in dining and lodging options. For a flavorful steak, visit the Big Sky Steakhouse, or for some great Louisiana seafood like gumbos, oysters on the half shell, or fried seafood dishes, Gumbeaux’s fits the bill perfectly. With seven more restaurants and bars, there is something for every appetite. For an overnight or weekend stay, Coushatta has many options. Top of the list is Coushatta’s flagship luxury hotel, The Grand Hotel, which has been completely renovated into an adult-exclusive property reserved for guests ages 21 and up, offering you a relaxing and refreshing escape. You’re also connected to the region’s largest gaming floor so you don’t have far to go to get in on the action.

Other options include the fashionable and comfortable suites at Seven Clans Hotel or the deluxe lakefront RV and chalet resort at Red Shoes Park. For the golf enthusiast, the Koasati Pines golf course is located in the area’s natural wetlands surrounded by magnificent pines and huge live oaks and offers a brilliant 18-hole, par 72 layout.

From the certified loose slot machines to the tables to the eateries to some after-hours fun, Coushatta makes for a great getaway. Experience upscale Southern Hospitality and hopefully some big luck follows you to those loose slot machines. For more information, visit


ilani Ridgefield, WA

ilani is the area’s premier gaming, dining, entertainment and meeting destination. Located in Ridgefield, WA, 20 miles north of Portland, OR, ilani’s expansive 400,000-square-foot facility is situated on 156 acres and pays tribute to the heritage of the Cowlitz Tribe and beauty of the Northwest, incorporating natural elements and stunning views throughout.

Inside ilani, 100,000 square feet provide visitors with the latest state-of-the-art slot and table game offerings to suit nearly every preference and every level of experience. With nearly 3,000 of the latest slots and 75 gaming tables, including a spectacular high-limit room, guests can test their luck at blackjack, craps, roulette, and so much more.

ilani’s award-winning Meeting & Entertainment Center is one of the most unique venues in the Portland metro area. This multi-use, flexible 30,000-square-foot facility is equipped with full production, lighting and sound specialists. Equipped to host groups and conventions of various sizes, ilani’s Cowlitz Ballroom hosts epic concerts, headlining comedians, world-class entertainers and more. ilani’s Meeting & Entertainment Center was developed with one thing in mind— creating a one-of-a-kind experience like nothing else.

While ilani provides visitors with the ultimate gaming and meeting experience, it is the complete ilani experience that keeps crowds returning. Inspired restaurants, boutique shops and remarkable entertainment, combined with gaming, create a dynamic getaway. Guests can recharge with some delectable bites from the likes of Smashburger, Chef Jet, i.talia or Taco Cantina; or relax with friends over a sumptuous meal from Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse, Line & Lure, Rose & Thorn, Longhouse or Tom’s Urban. ilani recently added two new restaurants to their line-up including Bamboo 8, which offers authentic Asian cuisine, and The Stadium Sports Bar & Grill. The Stadium features reimagined game-side dining and is home to the region’s largest video wall and a customized audio experience that will transport you to the sidelines of the action.

After sinking your teeth into award-winning cuisine at one of ilani’s restaurants, guests can celebrate over specialty drinks at Muze Lounge. If you’d rather relax over craft cocktails, stop by the 360 Bar. If you feel like indulging in some shopping, look for the latest fashions at Marshall Rousso for apparel and accessories and Ruby Blue for jewelry and gift items.

This past April, ilani celebrated four years as the Pacific Northwest’s premier gaming, dining, entertainment and meeting destination by breaking ground on a long-awaited hotel tower. Expected to open in 2023, the 14-story, nearly 300-room glass-encased tower is the next phase in the Cowlitz Indian Tribe’s master development plan. The hotel will offer four-diamond–level guest service and amenities including luxury rooms and suites, a full-service spa, an indoor-outdoor pool experience and a signature rooftop restaurant with views of the beautiful Pacific Northwest mountains and the mighty Columbia river.

Not only does ilani pay tribute to the heritage of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and life in the Pacific Northwest, ilani also pays homage to its rich tradition through the great renditions and offerings across the property. Start planning your visit to the Pacific Northwest today and experience why ilani is like nothing else.

For more information, visit


Play for Good at Gila River Hotels & Casinos

When you play at Gila River Hotels & Casinos, you play for good. This month they’re highlighting the Chandler Fire Department in Chandler, AZ, to show you how revenue generated from Gila River Hotels & Casinos directly impacts organizations throughout the state.

Funds generated from Gila River Hotels & Casinos not only have a positive social and economic impact on the Gila River Indian Community, but also the state of Arizona. Under the Arizona Tribal- State Gaming compacts, 12% of the tribe’s contribution has been invested back into Arizona to improve education, healthcare, conservation, public safety and the economy of local communities throughout the state.

Fire protection in Chandler started in 1917 with just 18 volunteers, a few hundred feet of hose and two hose carts. Today, the Chandler Fire Department is an internationally accredited organization with 213 firefighters and paramedics, operating 18 firetrucks from 11 fire stations around Chandler.

Many people don’t realize that the Chandler Fire Department has a strong working relationship with other fire departments throughout the Valley. Chandler Fire is a regional training facility, providing training for 29 other fire departments such as Phoenix, Gilbert, Maricopa and Tempe. Chandler Fire’s training instructors also visit other fire departments across the Valley to provide specialized training. Since the Valley’s fire departments have the same training, it makes working alongside each other seamless.

The grant from Gila River helped the Chandler Fire Department purchase 17 new and improved, life-saving extraction tools, otherwise known as the jaws of life, allowing them to place at least one tool on every truck. The jaws of life are battery-powered tools that are lighter, stronger and faster than the previous tools. The old equipment weighed roughly 75 pounds and had hydraulic hoses that needed to be connected to a generator, taking up time and necessary space on the fire trucks.

The jaws of life are instrumental in saving time on the scene of an incident. There is something known as the “golden hour” in public safety. It is a one-hour window from the time of an accident to be removed from the scene, prepped and into surgery to have a substantially better chance at surviving and living a meaningful life. By replacing the old equipment, Chandler Fire cut precious minutes off extraction time, subsequently saving more lives. In a life-or-death situation, time is of the essence.

Support from the casino’s players helped buy lifesaving equipment, but what it really bought is more time. To put it in perspective, every five minutes a house fire doubles in size and every five minutes chances of dying from an organ-related complication rise. By eliminating time-consuming steps, Chandler Fire can save more lives in the Arizona community.



If you’re looking for the perfect getaway with relaxation and luxury accommodations, the heart-pounding excitement of casino gaming, the thrill of world-class entertainment, the opulence of renowned fine dining, and the energy of the nightlife, then look no further than Seneca Resorts & Casinos. Owned by the Seneca Nation of Indians, Seneca Resorts & Casinos has everything you need to make your getaway a memorable experience.

From the awesome power of a natural wonder to the majesty of a hillside view or the epicenter of a city vibe, the three Seneca Resorts & Casinos properties offer three distinct feels with the same remarkable service. For more information on all that the Seneca properties have to offer, visit

Thunderous energy awaits guests at Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino, minutes from the world- famous Niagara Falls. Inside, feel the rush of excitement across the resort’s 147,000-square-foot gaming floor, where you can enjoy the hottest new slots and all of your favorite table games. With more than 3,600 slot machines and 90 table games to choose from, there’s a game for everyone. Seneca Niagara is the first casino in North America to introduce Pulse Arena, an exciting new concept that brings the fun of electronic table games and a Blackjack Party Pit to new heights and includes Seneca Niagara’s feature bar, STIR. Pulse Arena/STIR creates a high-energy focal point of activity and excitement with live performances & DJs, a massive 43-foot high-definition video wall, and a large, inviting dance floor.

Energy abounds in downtown Buffalo, and Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino is at the heart of the excitement. Amid the thrill of professional sports, year-round activity, and the energetic nightlife of the city’s Inner Harbor area and Cobblestone District, Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino offers non-stop thrills. And things are getting even better with a new $40 million casino expansion. Now, guests will find more than 1,200 slot machines and over 30 table games to keep their pulse racing, including a new high-limit room and expanded non-smoking area, as well as a performance stage for live entertainment at Stixx Sports Bar. The expansion also includes the new WD Bar & Grille restaurant on the second floor, complete with indoor and outdoor seating, as well as the new B-Lo Bar, The Creek, The Creek Stop, and the new Exit 6 retail outlet.

For a resort escape filled with hot entertainment and cool relaxation, visit Seneca Allegany Resort & Casino—the premier resort in New York’s Southern Tier region. Nestled at the foot of the majestic Allegheny Mountains along the New York/Pennsylvania border, Seneca Allegany Resort & Casino is a short drive from Buffalo, Rochester, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Southern Ontario. It’s always time to play at Seneca Allegany, home to nearly 1,800 state-of-the-art slot machines, including classic favorites and the latest technology and themes; and 33 table games, such as blackjack, roulette, craps, Caribbean Stud poker, and many more. The recently-redesigned 68,000-square-foot casino floor not only lets you enjoy all of your favorite games, but also offers you a level of comfort you won’t find anywhere else.

The biggest names in entertainment continue to make Seneca Resorts & Casinos a prime performance destination. From the intimacy of the 440-seat Bear’s Den Showroom at Seneca Niagara to the 2,400-seat Events Centers at Seneca Niagara and Seneca Allegany, each show is an event not to be missed.


Seven Feathers Casino Resort Canyonville, OR

Winning is the magic that makes casinos a popular entertainment option for millions of people, and sometimes  the casino itself is a winner  At Seven Feathers Casino Resort  guests have their shot at winning it big while playing at a place that won big in 2021 thanks to their votes. That’s how you share the love! This is nothing new at Seven Feathers, but this past year may just be its best yet when it comes to guest-voted awards.

It’s very appropriate that the majority of the awards at Seven Feathers are related to its gaming. Nearly 20 of the awards from first to third place are in categories related to slots, table games, the casino floors and players club features. These awards are no one-off, either. This property has shown a consistent focus on its gaming and player services over the past several years, and their guests are taking notice.

In 2021, Seven Feathers picked up eight more awards in gaming categories than it received in 2020. This is the expectation, however, based on the efforts they put in. Over the past year, the gaming floor at Seven Feathers has added a host of new features that increase its fun and its capabilities. From a new non-smoking table games pit to larger gaming cabinets with LED displays, there is a lot going on for guests to enjoy.

Go and look for the new carpet and tile flooring that was recently installed throughout the casino. You can also play the large Buffalo Link cabinet with 6 machines and circular display. It’s hard to miss the AGS Starwall display with its bright colors and flashy animations. Table players will surely notice the light-up craps and light-up roulette tables. It’s a foregone conclusion that these additions are what led to awards for Best Non-Smoking Area, Best Variety of Slots, Best Craps, Best Overall Gaming Resort and Best Casino, among many others in the Best of Gaming and Best of Slots awards by Casino Player and Strictly Slots magazines, respectively.

Another big improvement made at Seven Feathers this past year was taking its Players Club digital. In order to improve the speed and frequency of communication, the Players Club switched to sending email offers. They also added a Players Club Portal feature for direct communication with the casino hosts and access to account information. Guests love not having to wait for their offers and being able to update information from their phones. These benefits are likely a big part of the reason Seven Feathers won awards in categories such as Best Customer Service and Best Players Club.

In 2019, the Seven Feathers Hotel received tremendous upgrades to its largest wing. All the rooms were renovated with new, modern designs and improvements to all the room amenities. In 2021, a nearby hotel was remodeled into Creekside Hotel & Suites, and is managed by the Seven Feathers Hotel. This extra space provides guests with different possibilities for booking their stay. It might just be part of the reason why guests voted Seven Feathers to win awards for Best Hotel, Best Hotel Staff, Best Rooms, Favorite Casino Resort to Vacation At, Best Hotel Lobby and more.

As you can tell, some awards match closely to the changes and improvements that were recently completed or implemented by Seven Feathers, but there are a lot of things that go on at this property that may create more wide-sweeping positive sentiments. Regionally, year-round entertainment is a consistent benefit of visiting or staying at Seven Feathers. There are concerts, events, trade shows and many other types of entertainment that keep guests having fun.

This year, there have been a lot of great acts coming through, such as nationally touring country band, Old Dominion. With Larry the Cable Guy and Daughtry coming soon, there are always new shows worth seeing that promise to be a great time for everyone  It’s not just the shows  either Seven Feathers holds a variety of events that leave guests with a positive attitude. In October, it was Spooktacular— the very popular Halloween party. In September, it was Tacotopia— a regional tequila and music festival. These activities make everything more fun, and perhaps, it makes guests want to vote more favorably, too.

There are also other improvements that are harder to notice, like the brand-new heating and cooling system. Seven Feathers spared no expense when it comes to clean air by installing a brandnew, state-of-the-art HVAC system that is proven to eliminate viruses, allergens and pathogens from the air. In this day and age, guests can breathe easy, knowing the air is as clean as can be.

Seven Feathers is enjoying a great year with a lot of improvements and the awards to show for it, and it’s not done yet. This is a place where guests win every day, but occasionally, the property gets to enjoy some wins as well.



The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe is the proud owner of one of the premier casino/resort complexes in the world—the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort. Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort is home to the most action-packed gaming floor in Michigan. Located in beautiful Mount Pleasant, Soaring Eagle is an idyllic Midwest destination of pure gaming excitement and a place where you can also immerse yourself in luxury and escape the everyday.

Unwind in the comfort of newly renovated first-class rooms and premium suites that are a retreat all on their own. No matter which of their fresh, well-appointed guest rooms and suites you choose, this is comfort that indulges your senses with everything from patio or balcony options to double- headed walk-in glass showers to deluxe fireplaces. Their dedicated and friendly staff will make sure everything is perfect, exceeding all your expectations.

You can feel your pulse quicken the moment you walk in the casino, and the thrill of winning is just a push of the button away! With thousands of state-of-the-art slots in this players’ paradise, including progressives, you’re sure to find your favorite games. Take a spin on the new and exciting slots always being introduced on the main gaming floor and at the Slot Palace. New games featured are Crazy Money Double Deluxe and Cash Express Luxury Line including Buffalo Cash Express, 50 Lion Cash Express and Timberwolf Cash Express. Also included are the Casino Wizard Electronic Table Games. This beautifully designed suite of video table games includes roulette, blackjack, craps, and baccarat.

Table game enthusiasts will experience the widest variety of electrifying table game action, including roulette, craps, blackjack, Three- Card Poker and more. Your favorite is always close at hand.

Soaring Eagle Bingo is the largest in Michigan and THE spot for the best bingo action in the Midwest. So, bring your good luck charms and get in the game! Bingo runs every Wednesday thru Sunday with schedules in the morning, afternoon and evening.

But the lucky streak doesn’t stop on the game floor. Whether you crave fine dining, casual comfort food, quick bites or something to satisfy that sweet tooth, Soaring Eagle does it right. Prepare to indulge from the moment you are seated.

Siniikaung Steak & Chop House has an award-winning menu bursting with flavorful recipes centered around hand-cut aged steaks along with delicious chops, and the freshest seafood. For the ultimate indulgence try the Siniikaung Signature Filet—it’s a mouthwatering masterpiece. Enjoy the casual, yet elegant, ambiance featuring an extensive cellar with a hand-selected list of fine wines, single malt scotch and single batch bourbons.

Ascend is the place to be for select televised sporting events. With several large-screen TVs and plenty of seating, there’s no better place to keep the live sports action in full view. Enjoy great food, specialty drinks, craft beer and an unparalleled dining experience.

Legends Diner has all of the classic dinerstyle favorites. Everything from mouth-watering burgers, dogs and sandwiches to delectable desserts such as malts, floats, sundaes, and of course, their famous banana splits. Carryout is available during regular business hours in Legends Diner & Ascend.

The Little Eagle Café, located in the Slot Palace, features popular comfort foods like burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs, fries, chicken wings, and much more. The Little Eagle Café also serves several breakfast favorites.

Looking for a sweet treat or delicious pick-me-up? Native Grind features a cafe-style menu with custom roasted whole bean coffee, house-made artisan breads, pastries, cakes, pies, cookies, ice cream and more. If you can’t start the day, or keep the night rolling, without your java, this is your happy place.

Soaring Eagle is Mid-Michigan’s entertainment destination for the biggest names in music, comedy and more. Upcoming, “can’t miss” shows are Jonathan Antoine’s ChristmasLand Live, December 18; Rodney Carrington, December 27; Rick Springfield & Men At Work, December 28; Mike Epps, December 29; and Sawyer Brown & Lonestar, December 30. In 2022, are Air Supply, Jan. 21; Chicago, April 9; Lewis Black, April 23; and Theresa Caputo Live!, April 29.

No matter what you like to play or do, having a great time is always the name of the game at Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort. Plan your getaway online at or call 1-877-2- EAGLE

Print Friendly, PDF & Email