Odawa Celebrates Ten Years
By Kristi Kates | June 17, 2017
The Vegas-style Odawa Casino Resort made its debut on the Petoskey scene in 2007 in a $141 million-dollar building designed by architect Leo A. Daly, with modern lines, earth tones, and a spectacular canopy entrance. Inside, gaming took center stage with over 50,000 square feet of slot machines, roulette, craps, blackjack, and poker, with the remaining 250,000 square feet of the building including a host of additional diversions, from the upscale gourmet Sage Restaurant and the Waas-No-De (‘Northern Lights’) Buffet, to Ovation Hall, where the facility would host big-name concert events.
In between, guests would find retail shops, welcoming walkways, and the OZone nightclub with its brightly-lit dance floor and private “party booths.” It’s no wonder the place quickly became a huge nightlife draw for the region, and a fun place to test your fortunes 24 hours a day, whenever the whim might strike.
Today, it’s still the Odawa Casino Resort, of course – and all of the above features are still a big part of its appeal - but now it’s celebrating ten years as part of Petoskey’s entertainment landscape. It was so well-planned from the start, that not a whole lot has changed, except for general building upkeep.
So what is different from ten years ago? Some of the slot machines, for starters. The most popular slot machine themes when the casino first opened were Wheel of Fortune and Titanic. Today, the themed machines have been updated with shows like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and a nod to the current retro trend with ‘60s throwbacks like the original Batman.
The Odawa Casino’s table games have seen some improvements, as well. New side bets and other enhancements have been added to many of the carnival games, and the poker room now offers weekly poker tournaments.
All of this gambling translates to income for the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, the Native American organization that owns and operates the casino. The Odawa put a lot of effort into the smooth running of the casino property itself, and contribute back into their local community in part by contributing a percentage of the casino’s earnings to help support health programs, youth programs, education, and police services.
The tribe’s involvement with the community is perhaps most obvious in the casino’s employment opportunities and entertainment options. But Odawa Casino also gives back to the community through direct donations. Since opening its doors in 2007, the casino has given away more than $326,000 to local charitable organizations and non-profits.
In addition to the charitable donations, the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians makes revenue sharing payments to the state of Michigan and Emmet County. Over the last ten years, these payments totaled $29.3 million to the state and $11.2 million to the county.
It’s a symbiotic relationship that benefits locals, tourists, and the tribe itself. And they’re celebrating ten years of the casino, and their pride in running it, with a series of anniversary events this month.
The celebratory happenings, which will include free ice crème for guests on the Odawa Casino’s exact anniversary date of June 20, will feature a range of giveaways; promotional “points” that can be earned by playing various games; hot seat drawings; and a $25,000 cash giveaway on June 24, with a series of smaller prizes plus a grand prize of $10,000 (guests can earn entries via various casino activities starting June 19.)
Finally, on June 23,actor/comedian Billy Gardell will be performing two standup comedy shows at 6pm and 9pm at Ovation Hall, to cap off this month-long recognition of the casino’s achievements.
“It’s a thrill for us to be able to celebrate ten years of operation in the community,” said Eric McLester, General Manager of Odawa Casino, in a press release. “Sharing and giving back is important to us. We’re thankful to be able to have helped such a wide variety of worthy charity and non-profit organizations through the years. We can’t wait to see what the next ten years holds for us and this community.”