It’s been decades since the Cowlitz Indian tribe of Washington state declared it wanted to build a casino in the southwestern part of the state near Portland, Oregon. Opponents sprang up, ranging from the state to private citizens to surrounding tribes. Despite the challenges, construction began in 2015, and in April 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for the ilani Casino Resort to open.
The project was made possible by a partnership with the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, which funded construction and manages the property.
“This is the culmination of a pledge to the Cowlitz Indian tribe by the MTGA, and it represents an enormous accomplishment by the dedicated teams of both organizations and all our talented construction partners,” says Mitchell Grossinger Etess, chief executive officer for MTGA.
Mohegan tribal member Kara Fox-LaRose is the president and general manager of ilani.
“In addition to a variety of gaming and entertainment options, we’ve assembled a fine collection of restaurants, bars and retail establishments to provide a fabulous experience for our guests at every turn,” she says.
While there’s no hotel at this time, the resort offers 15 restaurants and bars, including Michael Jordan’s Steak House for elevated comfort food; Rose & Thorn, serving handcrafted cocktails and upscale international street food; Longhouse, a raw bar, sushi and noodle shop; Line & Lure Seafood Kitchen and Tap, showcasing the best from local waters; and many others.
Shoppers can have a day away at ilani as well. Select retailers include Marshall Rousso women’s fashions, from casual to evening wear; and Ruby Blue for accessories, handbags, jewelry and gift items. The Cowlitz Trading Post stocks ilani merchandise, gaming gifts and an assortment of other items.
Designed by the Friedmutter Group, ilani incorporates high-quality aesthetics and Pacific Northwest elements—including plentiful wood, stone and glass—while ensuring stunning views.
Gamblers will feel right at home at ilani inside 100,000 square feet of gaming space with 2,500 slots and 75 gaming tables.
Owner: Cowlitz Indian Tribe
Architect: Friedmutter Group
Developer/Manager: Salishan-Mohegan LLC
Casino Floor: 100,000 sq. ft.
Investment: $510 million