The Choctaw Nation plans to create a $165 million gambling and entertainment resort near an Oklahoma travel destination that’s popular with North Texans.
The tribe said Friday that it will open a four-story, 202,000-square-foot resort in Hochatown, Okla., about two hours west of its signature casino in Durant and close to Broken Bow Lake and Beavers Bend State Park. The development is set to break ground this spring.
Close neighbor to Hochatown, Broken Bow is considered the second fastest growing travel destination in the U.S. and brings in nearly 2 million visitors annually with outdoor activities like hiking, fishing and walkable trails, according to the city’s website. Broken Bow is also home to the Gardner Mansion and Museum, a historic home of the “Chief of the Choctaws” that was built in 1884.
The new resort will include 100 hotel rooms, 600 slot machines and eight table games. Texas and Oklahoma gamblers will also find new restaurants and bars, a pool, an outdoor venue with an amphitheater, a beer garden and a family-friendly game zone. Choctaw also plans to build a 12,000-square-foot mercantile nearby with a small market and fuel station.
The project is targeted for completion in fall 2023. It’s expected to create 400 hospitality jobs in Hochatown, a former Choctaw Nation village.
Janie Dillard, senior executive officer for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, said the “up and coming” location had been in the tribe’s sight for years.
“We know what it can do for our tourism in Oklahoma, what it can do for our tribe,” said Dillard, who has been with the Choctaw Nation for almost 40 years. “It can definitely help to grow and develop tourism and put more dollars into our state.”
Tourism generated $9.7 billion in direct visitor spending in 2019, according to Oklahoma’s tourism and recreation department.
Dillard said Hochatown attracts over a million tourists, with many traveling from surrounding areas like Broken Bow.
Friday’s announcement comes just a few months after the opening of Choctaw’s massive 21-story, $600 million Sky Tower in August. The Sky Tower project created 1,200 new jobs.
The Hochatown development will result in more than 2,000 construction jobs, creating an economic impact of over $211 million during the building period, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Chief Gary Batton said in a statement.
Choctaw and other tribes pay fees to the state of Oklahoma based on revenue from gaming activities. In fiscal 2021, fees rose 32% above 2020′s numbers. Choctaw paid over $34 million.
In the 2022 fiscal year, Choctaw Nation plans to spend $1.88 billion, including construction of 240 new houses. It also expects to create 879 new jobs.
Manhattan Construction Company and JCJ Architecture are the lead partners on the Hochatown resort. Both companies have worked on several of Choctaw’s projects.
The Choctaw Nation is the third largest Indian Nation in the United States with more than 200,000 tribal members and 10,000-plus associates.
“It’s not just a casino, it’s a cultural destination,” Dillard said. “And that’s what we want to bring to that whole area — really bring the Choctaw Nation culture.”