Casino manager Nino Maltos walks past a bank of slot machines as he gives a tour of the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe’s new casino, Last Chance Bingo and Casino, on Monday in Darrington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Casino manager Nino Maltos walks past a bank of slot machines as he gives a tour of the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe’s new casino, Last Chance Bingo and Casino, on Monday in Darrington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Sauk-Suiattle Tribe’s casino and bingo hall near completion

The place will have a rustic feel and a Bigfoot theme, apropos the scenic location near Darrington.

DARRINGTON — The Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe’s new casino and bingo hall is a ways out there.

That’s part of the character, according to the team behind the project. Expect a rustic feel and nods to the mythical Bigfoot.

Last Chance Casino and Bingo is about six miles outside of Darrington, headed toward Rockport on Highway 530. It was scheduled to open Sept. 1, but that date has been moved back as construction crews work to finish the building. The goal still is to open in September with a celebration and giveaways. A date has not been set.

“It’s been kind of a slow crawl lately, but we’re getting there,” casino manager Nino Maltos said. “And once we’re there, it’s going to be beautiful.”

The tribe, with about 300 members, has aimed to open a bingo hall for years. There were attempts that never gained traction, and near misses. Maltos has been working on the project since 2016. Along with a bingo hall, the plans grew to include slot machines, a cafe and a small bar and lounge.

To make that a reality, the Sauk-Suiattle partnered with the Shoalwater Bay Tribe. When the partnership was announced earlier this year, the Shoalwater Bay Casino called it “a landmark display of tribe-to-tribe assistance.”

Last Chance is expected to employ up to 50 people, Maltos said. The building is about 8,000 square feet and will have 188 slot machines and at least 65 seats for bingo, along with the cafe and bar.

The new building is on property that used to have a gas station and general store. The casino’s Bennetville Cafe is named after the store, and the Barstow Lounge is named for the family that sold the land to the tribe.

Workers move one of two cedar poles that will be part of the entrance to the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe’s new casino, Last Chance Bingo and Casino. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Workers move one of two cedar poles that will be part of the entrance to the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe’s new casino, Last Chance Bingo and Casino. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

There’s a view of Whitehorse Mountain from the parking lot, which is to be paved soon. Last week, workers prepared two large cedar logs to be hoisted into place as part of the front awning. The inside of the building smelled of fresh paint — sky blue in the main room and pale green in the bingo area, where a raised platform can be used for bingo calling or live performances. Slot machines, dark and covered in plastic, sat in rows. A bright white room in the back awaited installation of a large metal vault.

Bingo is a break-even endeavor, Maltos said. Adding slot machines and places to eat and drink makes for a casino that can turn a profit and draw more visitors.

The casino will have a club-card program called Whitehorse Rewards, he said. The logo is a sketch of a canoe with a mountain in the background and the word Sobah-Li-Ali, which means Whitehorse Mountain. It also is the name of an ocean-faring canoe the tribe takes on canoe journeys.

Maltos hopes club members will see the word on their cards and ask about its meaning.

“It’s a conversation starter,” he said.

Maltos drew a logo for the casino — a mountain goat perched on a summit — and another for Bigfoot Bingo, complete with “bingo” spelled out in the toes of the large footprint.

There also will be a Bigfoot Burger at the cafe, a Bigfoot Brew made by a local brewery and Bigfoot Bucks promotions on the gaming floor, Maltos said.

Traffic on the highway is fairly steady much of the year, thanks to the scenic loop from Arlington to Rockport to Burlington, and access to the North Cascades Highway, Maltos said. RVs and motorcycles pass by frequently on nice days.

Sara Comstock, food and beverage manager, hopes the casino will keep its rustic feel, even if it expands someday. This is the type of place that should have a lodge, not a hotel, she said.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

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