The Colville Tribes plan

The Colville Tribes plan to develop 194 acres in Pasco for a future casino and other projects east of Highway 395. 

A Pasco casino and other development planned by the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation has the potential to become a major employer in the Tri-Cities.

But the opening of a casino is still a few years away.

The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation expect the transfer of land for a tribal casino in Pasco to take two to five years.

Land must be transferred to the U.S. government to be held in trust for the benefit of the tribe.

The Colville Tribes bought land just inside Pasco that could be used for a casino and other economic development projects in 2019 and added to it in 2020.

The 194 acres are in north Pasco to the east of Highway 395 just north of the Kartchner Street exit on Capitol Avenue.

Francis Somday, executive director of the tribes, said at a Pasco Chamber of Commerce virtual meeting this week that it is possible that some economic development project, such as a convenience store and gas station, could open as parcels are moved into trust status before the casino is built.

The size of the casino and number of people it will employ will depend on the gaming market in the Mid-Columbia when casino construction begins, said Cody Desautel, the tribes natural resources director.

However, tribal officials are anticipating a casino that likely will employ more people than the Colville’s other three casinos combined due to the market size of the Tri-Cities. The other casinos are in Omak, Coulee Dam and Manson.

Representatives of the tribe mentioned Northern Quest Resort & Casino near Spokane, owned by the Kalispel Tribe. A development of that size could provide about 2,000 jobs, according to information at the meeting.

A water park as part of the development did not come up at the Chamber of Commerce presentation, although the possibility has been discussed previously.

The tribes likely would open retail space on the property for local businesses, Somday said.

“I can commit to you that the tribes will be an excellent business and government partner,” he said.

The Tri-Cities area is the traditional homeland of the Palus, one of the 12 tribes in the Colville Confederation, according to the Colville Tribes.

However, the Yakama Tribal Nation says the land is in its tribal territory and has opposed the Colville development.