Experts: $7 billion to be invested in tribal hotel over the next three years Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports · April 6, 2019 at 3:17 pm SAN DIEGO – Experts estimated $7 billion will be invested into Native American casinos over the next three years that will include hotel rooms, water features, spas and other amenities to attract out-of-town visitors and boost gaming revenue. In 2019, the industry will have its biggest growth in hotel rooms since 2009, said Matthew Robinson and James Klas, principals with Minnesota-based KlasRobinson, who discussed the developments at the National Indian Gaming Association conference and trade show. During 2019, eight Indian casinos will open new hotels, with another 10 expanding existing properties for a combined total of more than 3,500 additional rooms, a 6.8 percent growth rate. In 2009, some 150 Native American tribes had a combined 36,849 hotel rooms. By the end of 2019, that number will grow to 213 tribes with hotels and 55,372 rooms. KlasRobinson expects six new Indian casino hotels and three hotel expansions at existing casinos will start, adding more than 1,500 rooms. In 2021, seven new Indian casino hotels and four other hotel expansions are on the books to add more than 2,500 rooms. By the end of 2021, the firm said Indian casino will be just shy of 60,000 hotel rooms, a 62 percent gain since 2009. Two examples of that growing trend are near San Diego. Last month, Sycuan Casino Resort opened a $226 million project that includes a 12-story tower with more than 300 rooms and 57 suites. The property added more than 10 new bars and restaurants, 42,000 square feet of meeting space, a spa, and a pool and cabana area that included an adult-only pool and lazy river. In March 2018, Pechanga Resort Casino unveiled its $300 million expansion that doubled the size of the resort and made it the largest on the West Coast. The tribe added 568 hotel rooms, two restaurants, a two-level spa with fitness and yoga studio, 4.5-acre pool complex, and 68,000 square feet of meeting and event space. Hotel construction costs can run from $80,000 to $350,000 per room and the return in incremental gaming revenue is $150 to $500 per occupied room night, KlasRobinson said. “If you look at the amount of money you can expect from gambling revenue from a hotel customer and from a local resident – if you can add a 500-room hotel – it’s the equivalent of moving the city of Missoula, Montana (more than 70,000 people), right next to your hotel,” Klas said. “You’re getting the equivalent of a significant boost in population by adding this hotel because hotel customers are worth a lot more day-by-day than your average local residents are.” But in order to attract people to stay at the hotels, there’s a need for non-gaming amenities, he added. Meeting space can draw customers during the week and adds to the length of stay by a night or two, he said. “The whole point of non-gaming amenities, at least in the context of casino Indian gaming environment, is to grow the business and bring additional people in to build the market,” Klas said. KlasRobinson said 67 tribal casinos have spas, which are known to bring people to a property and get them to stay longer. One in three tribal casinos with a hotel has a spa. Klas said water parks and lazy rivers are a growing attraction and marketing tool, especially for millennials with the night club aspect at night tied into pools. Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino Resort in Maricopa, Arizona, which already had an outdoor pool area with swim-up bar and large whirlpool, has an improved adult pool and lazy river as part of a 230-room hotel addition, the firm noted. The $19.0-million, 40,000 square-foot Lagoon at Treasure Island Resort & Casino in Welch, Minnesota, which opened in February 2016, completed a 3,200 square-foot addition to the new waterpark in 2017, including a new activity pool and family hot tub, Klas said. “These new water amenities are something that’s going on in the industry right now,” Klas said.