Massive expansion under way at Angel of the Winds Casino

ARLINGTON, Wash. -- It’s got all the bells and whistles of a modern casino, but Angel of the Winds Casino Resort near Arlington has been adding new features almost from the day it opened in 2004.

“Either you’re growing or you’re dying,” said Travis O’Neil, the casino’s general manager.

The casino, owned and operated by the Stillaguamish Tribe, has expanded its space already, while adding a hotel, along with the state’s only tribal owned brewery. But right now, beyond the back wall of the casino, a $60 million dollar expansion is under way to grow the place by a massive 300,000 square feet, while also adding features that will set it apart.

“It’s not just about playing on the slot machines, or sitting at a table game,” said O’Neil. “What else can you do? What other type of fun is there? We want people to have a great time here.”

Part of that is creating a concert venue that will also blend into a new state of the art bowling alley, which is following trends started in Las Vegas.

“You see what they’re doing and how successful they’ve been, so we want to copy and follow that same path.”

The casino expansion shows just how quickly things have come up in 15 years, from an idea that initially received pushback from some tribal members and people living in the area. But Shawn Yanity, Stillaguamish Tribal Chairman, says from day one, there has always been a commitment to the community.

“As we become successful, we’re going to wrap our arms around the community in that success as well,” said Yanity.

Over the year, that has included investments in local schools, fire and police departments. The casino money also helps tribal members by funding programs for housing, healthcare, and treatment. Since the casino opened, the small tribe of just over 300 has also created more than 1,000 jobs.

“We’ve become a very strong economic force in the north county here,” said Yanity. And that economic engine will likely only get stronger as the tribe’s centerpiece gets bigger.