The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

August 31, 2012

Seneca casino set to open at new site

SENECA, Mo. — John Ervin said that officials at Bordertown Casino have wanted to add a hotel and other amenities for at least 10 years.

But the problem was spelled out in the casino’s name: borders. And not just the Missouri-Oklahoma state line.

“The building at Bordertown has served us well, but it’s aging, and it’s landlocked,” Ervin said Friday night. “We couldn’t expand our parking or building. We were locked in.”

In the next few days, the casino will get its chance to stretch out at a new site with a new name. Called Indigo Sky Casino, the $85 million operation features a bigger gaming floor, a hotel, an RV park and several restaurants, said Ervin, the casino’s assistant general manager.

Sometime over the next few days, Bordertown will shut its doors, and staff will start working at the new casino, located about a mile west of the intersection of highways 60 and 43. Ervin said an official opening date has not been set.

 

ECONOMIC IMPACT

Ervin said Bordertown had a $60 million impact on the local economy last year. But Seneca city officials don’t forecast extra growth to match the casino’s expansion.

The casino will use the city’s wastewater service, generating extra revenue in service fees to the city. But Cecil Vance, mayor pro tem, believes that the casino will keep potential customers on site throughout their visit.

“People will likely eat at the restaurants there,” Vance said. “They may buy some stuff from town, but not a lot. It will also change our traffic flow, so that might become an issue. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Ervin said the casino required more employees. About 300 new positions were opened, bringing the casino’s total work force to about 700. Ervin said that all of Bordertown’s employees were retained.

Owned and operated by the Eastern Shawnee Tribe, Bordertown has been open since 1987, and started as a bingo hall. Profits from the casino go to tribal programs such as educational programs and assistance for the elderly, Ervin said.

As for the Bordertown building, tribe officials don’t want it to remain vacant.

Larry Kropp, first counsel on the tribe’s business committee, said that options include transforming the building into a training center, call center, educational center or even a small manufacturing plant. Whatever the tribe decides, Kropp estimates repurposing the building within a year.

“A building like that would cost us too much to heat and cool, even when vacant,” Kropp said. “It’s too valuable. We want to do something that will promote growth for the tribe and the community.”

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