First tip when entering the new Emerald Queen Casino: Look up.

Elegant and one-of-a-kind light fixtures are there not only to add beauty but help guide your way and find your friends.

Representatives of the Puyallup Tribe on Wednesday gave The News Tribune a preview of the tribe’s new casino at 2920 E. R. St. in Tacoma.

The facility is nearing completion after more than a decade of planning and five years of construction, at a cost of around $400 million.

The opening, originally hoped for in December, now looks to be some time in March as preparations wind through their final stages.

Emerald Queen general manager Frank Wright has been overseeing the project and drew from lessons learned early on from mentors in the industry and throughout his time with Emerald Queen to find out just what customers wanted in a new casino.

The new casino is a long way from the original riverboat that made its way to Tacoma in 1996 or its current I-5 site or even the EQ Fife site.

“If you look at the Fife casino, it was originally designed primarily to help our elders have a place they feel safe and secure,” he recalled. “The rugs didn’t have busy patterns ... the music was toned down. So when we built this new facility, this is jazzed up.”

The new casino will replace the current Emerald Queen Tacoma I-5 casino — a former bingo hall with three large adjoining tents. The Fife site will remain open.

At the new site, dramatic, one-of-a-kind LED light groupings are not just eye-catching but help customers locate each other and orient themselves on the gaming floor and multiple levels.

Dangling crystals, for example, help patrons locate table game pits. Murals can be found in different spots, tying together heritage and the landscape.

“Knowing customers, because we’ve been in business for 27 years, is that there’s going be a lot of pride because they have a sense of ownership also,” said Wright. “It’ll be, ‘This is where I play,” or ‘This is going to be my machine,’ — that’s just the thought process in their mind. So they’re going to be really proud of this.”

There are 2,133 machines on the floor.

And lots of restrooms — more than 200 stalls.

Wright said they’ve had years to work out every last detail, from the access off I-5 to valet parking in the front.

“There should never be waiting a long time to get in,” Wright said. “We’ve brought in all of the most modern equipment for tracking every detail that happens here.”

The new site, easily visible from Interstate 5, totals 310,000 square feet. The site not only encompasses the new 110,000-square-foot gaming floor but five restaurants, including a buffet, coffee shop, fine-dining restaurant that also has special booths for special occasions, a sports bar and deli.

There’s also a 21,000-square-foot event center with a 2,000-person seating capacity that can handle everything from performing artists to e-gaming competitions and special broadcasts, which will include the Seahawks draft.

The tribe also will open a 12-story, 170-room hotel and spa later this year, which also will have conference room space and a rooftop restaurant.

Puyallup Tribal Council Chairman David Bean and Vice Chairman Bill Sterud also were on hand for Wednesday’s tour and talked about how they imagine customers will react on that first visit.

“It’s going to surprise many of our customers, just how incredibly beautiful it all is,” said Sterud. “That first impact is going to be amazing.”

“The biggest thing we want our customers to see is the history, the beautiful heritage of The Puyallup Tribe of Indians,” said Bean. ”We have been gaming since the beginning of time. And when you look around this facility, you’ll see the tribute to our ancestors, to our elders, thanking them for their sacrifices.”

Not only that, Bean emphasized, it also “is going to help our tribe provide essential governmental services to our community now and into the future.”

It’s not all about the machines and tables.

“There’s going to be first-class quality entertainment. We’re going to have a wide variety, and there’s the food,” said Bean. “I just came back from Portland and from a regional gathering, and everyone from up and down the coast has heard about the facility or driven by it. They’ve seen it and can’t wait for it to open.”

Wedding planning with a hotel package also is in the works, complete with drone photography.

Wright said one of his doctors called him after they first turned on the LED light system outside.

“He had just got out of surgery, and he called me up in the middle of the night just to tell me how excited he was for the opening,” Wright said.

Wright admits this is a dream come true for him, the tribe and everyone he works with.

“I don’t think anybody in the Northwest has been able to put together a facility like this,” he said, “with this much attention to detail and beauty. And, I mean from every every step through this facility, it continues to change significantly. And it’s laid out in a fashion that allows people to flow through the facility without feeling like they are lost.”

Wright, even though he’s walked through it countless times, still marvels at the lights, interior design, even the kitchen, much larger than the original riverboat version, which could serve 10,000 meals a day.

The new one could handle 25,000 meals on a busy day, Wright estimated.

“And now everyone can do their jobs in comfort,” he said. “Everything’s new. The coolers are all labeled, so you don’t mix food items. And every cooler temperature is recorded,” with digital displays on the front.

A separate room is just for produce prep, to avoid any risk of cross-contamination.

The facility plans to add more than 200 jobs, eventually employing an estimated 2,450, including current workers who will transfer to the new site.

The tribe estimates the new casino and operations will add $1.5 billion to the local economy over the next decade.

They’re hiring now. Those seeking more information can check out employment information at

All of this helps solidify the tribe’s status as one of the top employers in Pierce County, along with additional jobs in its health authority, school, tribal administration, cancer center and cannabis operations. According to Bean, 66 percent of its workforce overall are non-native Washingtonians.

“We are taking care of not just our community but our citizens in our neighboring communities in paying competitive-wage jobs,” he added.

Wright agreed and noted its importance as an anchor, particularly for the Eastside.


“When you have a facility like this, it becomes a magnet,” he said, drawing other entities to open, such as fast food, gas stations, laundry cleaners, grocery stores. “They’ll start springing up because of this.”

Source: Cockrell, Debbie. “Here’s a peek inside the new Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma as it gets closer to launch.’” The News Tribune, 30 January 2020, Source Link:


First tip when entering the new Emerald Queen Casino: Look up.

Elegant and one-of-a-kind light fixtures are there not only to add beauty but help guide your way and find your friends.

Representatives of the Puyallup Tribe on Wednesday gave The News Tribune a preview of the tribe’s new casino at 2920 E. R. St. in Tacoma.

The facility is nearing completion after more than a decade of planning and five years of construction, at a cost of around $400 million.

“This is where I dreamed it would be one day,” said Wright as he watched workers put the finishing touches on the new casino. “The tribe would make the investment and flourish.”

The new casino is a 310,000-square-foot tourist attraction. Everything is new, from the games to the lights to a 2,000-seat concert venue and event center. Wright says the bragging rights even extend to the casino’s new restrooms. “You walk into a restroom and there’s probably more stalls then you’ll find at any casino in the country, because we want to make sure we’re taking care of every detail," he said. That detail includes showcasing the tribe’s culture and art throughout the enormous venue.

The tribe took its time to get to a new casino, spurning outside financing. Wright says that means profits go back into the local economy, while adding 200 new jobs. The man who made his start on a river boat says he can’t wait to welcome the public to his slice of Nevada in the Northwest.

“You’re in Tacoma, Washington, and you roll into here. This is Vegas man.”

Source: Hopperstad, John. “Tacoma to welcome Las Vegas-style casino.’” Q13, Nexstar Broadcasting Inc., 6 November 2019, Source Link:


The Emerald Queen Casino will proudly open the doors of its new home!

Our new location will rival our counterparts not only within the region but to Las Vegas and beyond.

The newly constructed casino will run parallel to our existing I-5 Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma location, alongside Portland Avenue while sprawling from East 29th Street all the way down to East R Street. 

Featuring a footprint of a whopping 310,000 Square feet, this new location will facilitate more than just premier gambling & entertainment within the region.  Inside patrons will find an area bar & buffet along with a 24-hour cafe, sports bar & deli. This permanent facility will also feature a 21,000 square foot event center that will serve as a host venue for premier acts & events visiting the northwest, with a total seating capacity of 2,000 guest! There will be no need to sweat parking the night of the big event as our twin parking garages will have a total capacity of over 1,300 vehicles.

In the words of General Manager Frank Wright "It is going to be fantastic!"

Capped in a black and grey textile roof inspired by designs on traditional tribal baskets this venue will capture some of the most picturesque views in the south sound region. Featuring views of not only Mt. Rainier but the downtown Tacoma area as well, thanks to its various lookout points found throughout the casino. These lookout points will also provide natural lighting in the building which will help highlight the various wood carving & natural element features found throughout the casino floor. 

After the completion of the casino building, we will enter phase III of our newly established home. Slated to open in 2020 our casino we will add a 150-200 room hotel & spa. Included in this plan is the addition of not only additional conference room space but also a rooftop restaurant!

Make sure to follow us & continue to visit this page for updates as we count down to the grand opening of our new, Emerald Queen Casino - The entertainment capital of the northwest!