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Shoshone-Bannock Casino Hotel hosts opening day ceremonies

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Officials and members of the community line up for the ribbon cutting of the newly renovated Shoshone-Bannock Casino Hotel | Courtesy photo

FORT HALL — After breaking ground on a new 85,463 square foot expansion project nearly two years ago, Shoshone-Bannock Casino Hotel is officially open.

The opening day ceremonies kicked off with an official ceremony and ribbon cutting Wednesday morning.

The project, which began in 2015, includes a casino addition connected to the west side of the Shoshone-Bannock Hotel and Events Center, as well as an addition to the north side of the building. There is also a new parking lot that contains
over 300 parking spaces.

The interior of the expansion includes a new bingo hall, buffet, lounge, deli and coffee kiosk. The hotel, casino, and new Deka Ghani Grill are open 24/7.

Pamela Gallegos, the building’s CEO, tells EastIdahoNews.com it’s been a fast and furious project since she came on board a year ago.

“This hotel was new (in 2012). It was invigorating and beautiful and the casino had seen better days. It really was time to connect the two, (which is only going) to increase revenue,” Gallegos says.

Since opening on Feb. 5, Gallegos says she’s seen unbelievable revenue numbers for the hotel and casino. Customers who visit the casino hotel are locals and out of staters. There are a lot of visitors from the Boise area and with an increase in tourism to Yellowstone National Park in the last several years, Gallegos says they hope to attract some of that crowd.

“There’s no reason why we can’t get some of the tourist traffic. And we’re starting to do that,” Gallegos says.

Nathan Small, chairman of the Fort Hall Business Council, said the initial response to the Fort Hall Casino years ago was negative due to the high numbers of Latter-day Saints in the area. But since the completion of the hotel and events center in 2012, it’s been well-received by everyone in the community.

“Last I heard, about 80 percent of the people (in eastern Idaho) were Mormon and they’re basically against this kind of stuff. But even they have shown up here for all the activities. So, it shows that the community is really supportive of the tribes here and what we’ve been doing,” Small said during a news conference.

More growth is in the works for the Shoshone-Bannock Casino Hotel. Gallegos says she was hired last year to help with future growth and train tribal members to take over when she leaves.

“We have some amazing plans. This is Phase I. Phase II is coming and it really is going to make this place a destination,” Gallegos says. “In this industry, you either keep growing or you die.

The specifics of Phase II are still in the preliminary stages.

The celebration for Shoshone-Bannock Casino Hotel continues Saturday, Feb. 23 with a grand opening. The public is invited to participate during the day for multiple promotions, activities, entertainment, and giveaways. Visit the website or the Facebook page to learn more.

Tribal dancers performing for the crowd during the opening ceremony | Courtesy photos
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