BY LAUREN CARTER
The employees of the Saltcreek Casino in Pocasset are working vigorously to get the first Grady County casino fully open and ready for the public.
From office furniture trucks to FedEx delivery vans, the finishing touches are now being put on the project. Although the casino is technically open right now, officials are still running tests on all the new machines and new staff is getting used to rules and regulations.
With heavy social media interest, including the Saltcreek Casino's Facebook page, which has generated over 840 'likes', some Grady County residents seemed to be unclear when the grand opening is.
According to officials, the casino is under going a soft opening from now until the ribbon ceremony toward the middle of December. After the ribbon-cutting ceremony Saltcreek will host it's big grand opening on New Year's Eve.
"This is definitely a starting point," General Manager Justin Yahola said. "We want to come out here to be a part of the community. We definitely want to make ourselves known by reaching out to Chickasha, we've already reached out to Poccasset and we got to meet the mayor and we've reached out to Amber as well."
Yahola will be the business's first manager and has experience in the gaming industry.
"It's definitely an honor getting to be the first facility like this in Grady County," Yahola said.
Besides having 556 games available to customers, there is also six table games which include blackjack, three card poker and UTH. There is also a high-stakes room that is separated off from the main floor.
In the center of the casino there is the Brook Bar with large televisions facing every direction. Customers also have the option of sitting at the bar and playing games at the same time.
There is also a home style restaurant with a more relaxed feel, Yahola explained. The Fork Cafe is training staff right now and will soon be releasing the menu.
The casino's hidden treasure is the Reflection Gift Shop. Bedre Fine Chocolate, which is made in Pauls Valley, is sold in the high- end gift shop.
Once the casino is running on a regular schedule, Yahola will oversee daily operations and make sure the casino is following proper procedures.
"Of course we want to monitor our revenue, monitor the games, and I want to make sure that the games that we have are something that our customers like," Yahola explained. "If we notice that some of our games aren't producing then we want to make sure we bring different games in, the main thing with that is to get the feedback from our customers and they are really good about that. The customers know what they like to play and they know what type of games they like."
With brand new games, seating and equipment the casino is setting a high standard, Yahola said.
"When this project first started it was over a year ago," Yahola said. "Our gaming management staff at our headquarters in Ada reached out and said here's our plan, here's what we want to do. We want to set the standard. We're reaching out to a new community and a new county so lets do it right."
Bill Anoatubby, Governor of the Chickasaw Nation is also excited for the casino to start running.
“We are excited to open SaltCreek Casino as it is an integral piece in the Chickasaw Nation’s overall vision for expanding and enhancing economic development and tourism in Grady County," Anoatubby said. "SaltCreek employs nearly 200 local residents, and we expect it will attract people outside of Grady County to the area to dine, shop and stay.”