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News / Business / Clark County Business

Cowlitz Tribe to end relationship with Mohegan Tribe, ilani casino operator

The tribe will transition the casino to a "self-managed enterprise"

By Shari Phiel, Columbian staff writer
Published: April 11, 2023, 5:51pm

The Cowlitz Indian Tribe announced Tuesday that it will end its six-year relationship with the Connecticut-based Mohegan Tribe, which oversees operations of its highly profitable ilani casino in Ridgefield.

In a statement on the Cowlitz Indian Tribe’s website, Chairwoman Patty Kinswa-Gaiser said: “After careful consideration, the Cowlitz Tribal Gaming Authority has recommended, and the Cowlitz Tribal Council has approved, a decision to begin a multi-step process of transitioning ilani from an enterprise managed by the Mohegan Tribe to a self-managed enterprise.”

In the statement, Kinswa-Gaiser said tribal leadership has the deepest gratitude to the Mohegan Tribe for its guidance and partnership during the formative years of the casino.

She said the timing of the announcement “provides ample notice for (the Cowlitz Tribe Gaming Authority) to begin a deliberate, professional and multi-step process, evolving ilani from its current fully-managed state, to one where it is assisted with management and, ultimately, to independent self-management.”

The Cowlitz Tribal Council announced last month that it was considering separating from the Mohegan Tribe at the end of its seven-year contract in June 2024, a move that surprised many of the tribe’s members.

According to Kinswa-Gaiser, operations at ilani will not change, adding the Mohegan Tribe has committed to continuing to provide its management service for the next 15 months.

“We are forever grateful for the remarkable success and benefits this partnership has brought our tribal members in the Cowlitz community since ilani opened its doors in 2017,” Kinswa-Gaiser said in the statement.

The chairwoman said the decision to move toward self-management was a natural evolution for the tribe, and was similar to decisions made by other Northwest tribes.

The Mohegan Tribe had not issued any statement on the Cowlitz Tribe’s decision as of Tuesday evening.

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Traffic travels south on Interstate 5 as the new ilani hotel that is currently under construction continues to take shape near La Center. The hotel will have nearly 300 guest rooms.Cowlitz Tribe to end relationship with Mohegan Tribe, ilani casino operator
The Cowlitz Indian Tribe announced Tuesday that it will end its six-year relationship with the Connecticut-based Mohegan Tribe, which oversees operations of its highly profitable…
Traffic travels south on Interstate 5 as the new ilani hotel that is currently under construction continues to take shape near La Center. The hotel will have nearly 300 guest rooms.Mohegan Tribe CEO lends support to ilani split
The Cowlitz Indian Tribe’s decision to end its partnership with the Connecticut-based Mohegan Tribe and take over management and operations of its ilani casino next…
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