Stillaguamish will increase charitable giving

ARLINGTON — A $44 million casino expansion could mean $200,000 or more will find its way to local nonprofits and governmental agencies.

The Angel of the Winds Casino in Arlington will more than triple in size — from 22,000 square feet to 84,000 square feet — before year’s end. That expansion could double the amount of money the Stillaguamish Indian Tribe gives away in charitable contributions, and to offset negative effects of the casino.

The tribe hands out about $300,000 each year to nonprofit groups, said Stillaguamish Tribal Executive Eddie Goodridge.

“We hope to get that number up to $500,000,” he said.

Stillaguamish Tribal Chairman Shawn Yanity handles the casino’s charitable donations. He said information on the tribes’ recent mitigation costs was not immediately available.

Last year, the Tulalip Tribes, which owns two casinos and a bingo hall, gave away $2.5 million in charitable donations. The Tulalip Casino alone, at 227,000 square feet, is about three times the size of how large the Angel of the Winds Casino will be after it is expanded.

According to the gambling compact the Stillaguamish tribe signed with the state in 2000, the tribe must give 2 percent of the net revenue from its table games, such as blackjack and poker, to local agencies dealing with problems caused by the casino — such as increased traffic and more need for police and fire services.

In most cases, a tribe must also donate one-half of a percent of its net win from slot-style machine games to local nonprofits and charities, said Susan Arland, spokeswoman for the Washington State Gambling Commission. Another one-half of one percent is reserved to help address any problems the casino causes on the tribe that owns it, such as new roads leading to the casino or sidewalks for pedestrians on reservation land.

The Stillaguamish tribe gives its half-percent — for a total of a full one percent — to local charities and nonprofits, Goodridge said.

“We have determined that there are no impacts to us, so we give that money away,” Goodridge said.

In 2004, the most recent data available, tribes with gambling in Washington state gave away about $4.8 million to emergency services and public works departments in response to increased traffic and other problems caused by casinos, and about $5.4 million in charitable donations, Arland said.

Information on the payouts — both in donations and to offset negative effects — that each tribe reported to the Washington State Gambling Commission was not immediately available.

The Stillaguamish tribe is currently accepting applications from agencies such as police and fire departments that can prove that they’re experiencing negative effects from the casino. The applications, which are due Feb. 29, will be reviewed by a committee composed of county, city, tribal and state officials.

Reporter Krista J. Kapralos: 425-339-3422 or kkapralos@heraldnet.com.

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