Second Woodland casino unlikely to open this year

Current focus is making first venue a success

By Ray Legendre, Columbian staff writer

Published:

 

A planned second casino near the site of the Oak Tree Casino in Woodland is unlikely to open this year, general manager Chuck McCormick said Thursday.

Opening the casino annex on the old Parr Lumber lot behind the Oak Tree remains in the cards, he said. However, growing the initial casino has taken precedent for the time being. Officials with the city and casino had previously talked about the casino annex opening this year.

The six-month-old Oak Tree Casino experienced a slower than anticipated first quarter of 2012, leading Woodland city officials to slice tax revenue projections from $200,000 to around half that amount. Woodland plans to use the tax money to purchase two new police units and a fire chief's vehicle to replace vehicles with high mileage.

"We have to go through the same growing pains of any new business," McCormick said. "We're here. We're not going anywhere. We're going to keep going."

There are reasons for optimism, he noted.

April's tax revenue grew between $15,000 to $20,000 from the previous month, and more customers continue to walk through the doors, McCormick said.

The reality, though, is the casino he runs is competing against four established cardrooms in La Center.

McCormick conceded Thursday he did not know how long it would take before the business met its initial projections, which were based in part off previous La Center cardroom revenues.

In interviews last week, council members Marshall Allen and Benjamin Fredricks and former Mayor Chuck Blum each questioned whether Woodland residents supported the casino with their business.

The majority of the casino's stronger players are from the Portland-Vancouver area, McCormick answered. Woodland residents have not frequented the venue for the most part, he said,

A second casino would be a boon for players, casino owners and the city, McCormick said. The reason why, he explained, was because gamblers who lose at one spot often seek out another location to find better luck. The annex would provide them such an outlet and increase tax revenue, he added.

Woodland Mayor Grover Laseke said he was "not terribly surprised" plans for the second casino had been pushed back, due to the sluggish economy. The delay would not impact the city's financial picture, Laseke added.

Ray Legendre: 360-735-4517; www.facebook.com/raylegend;www.twitter.com/#!/col_smallcities;ray.legendre@columbian.com.