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Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

Snohomish County business
2 casinos gamble that there's enough business for both

By Cydney Gillis
Times Snohomish County Bureau

MIKE SIEGEL / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Jeff Wheatley, slot-machine engineer with Quil Ceda Creek Nightclub and Casino, checks on one of the machines before the casino's grand opening scheduled for today.
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Two casinos. Different customers. Lots more gambling.

The Tulalip Tribes reopened their old Tulalip Casino site today with a new look and name — the Quil Ceda Creek Nightclub and Casino. The 52,000-square-foot casino next to Interstate 5 is a rock 'n' roll and gaming club patterned after the Hard Rock Cafe, Tulalip Tribal Councilman Les Parks said.

On Oct. 28, the Stillaguamish Tribe will open its Angel of the Winds Casino near Arlington. At 22,000 square feet and with no live music, the casino aims to be a neighborhood spot for local residents to stop in, play a few games and go home, general manager David Seuffert said.

Both casinos are competing for local dollars with a similar pitch that they are smaller and more intimate than the 1-year-old Tulalip Casino, a 227,000-square-foot center with three restaurants and 1,350 employees.

The message: Come here and avoid the tourists.

But the clubs will cater to different audiences — one, the young and free; the other, the settled.

Parks, who sits on the tribal council's business committee, said those differences mean the area can support both clubs.

Early this year, about six months after it opened, the Tulalip Casino laid off more than 200 workers. But that was due to overstaffing and not the $78 million casino's financial health or market capacity, Parks said.

"We've looked long, deep and hard at market saturation," Parks said. "We believe we've got a long way to go."

The Tulalips' market research included the opening of Angel of the Winds, Parks said. Marketing manager Cara Althoff said the Quil Ceda club had been planned before the Tulalips learned of the Stillaguamish Tribe's plans for Winds and is not a response to them.

The Quil Ceda Creek casino employs 180 and includes 625 slot machines, 12 game tables and a fast-food cafe. The Tulalip Tribes spent $2 million to remodel the old casino. It now features lime-green, red, orange and yellow walls adorned with posters of rock stars.

Live bands will play five nights a week, Althoff said, with dancing to recorded music from 2 to 4 a.m.

"It's hip," Althoff said. "It's for the young and young at heart."

Though smaller, the $19 million Angel of the Winds Casino will employ 206, have 425 slot machines and 10 to 12 game tables, and include a small snack bar.

"We're not going to be big and fancy," Seuffert said. "We'll be a nice little place to go and gamble."

Customers are expected to stay an average of two hours and spend $40 to $50 each time they visit, Seuffert said. The casino is expected to generate about $33 million in revenue the first year.

The Tulalips did not provide revenue estimates for the Quil Ceda Creek club.

Angel of the Winds might expand, Seuffert said, but it will not move closer to I-5, as the tribe had said it might.

Not being visible from I-5 will ensure that the Stillaguamish Tribe's casino will draw mostly local visitors, Parks said.

"They're going to create their own niche," he said.

Cydney Gillis: 425-745-7813 or cgillis@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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