Upper Skagit Tribe buys into resort

Published on Thu, May 29, 2003 by Rebecca Schwarz Kopf

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Upper Skagit Tribe buys into resort

By Rebecca Schwarz Kopf

In early March, the Trillium Corporation, owners of Semiahmoo Resort, announced it had entered into a consulting agreement with the Upper Skagit tribe to operate the internationally-known resort on Semiahmoo spit. And now, two months later, the tribe has bought into the resort.

Since the consulting announcement in March, many in the community have been concerned with the possibility of gambling moving into the Semiahmoo spit area, and have expressed concerns to the city of Blaine. Since the resort is not specifically owned by a native tribe, or on designated tribal lands, the area could not be home to casino gambling, rather small-time gambling, such as pull tabs, found in downtown Blaine. And currently, the city is working on an ordinance that would prohibit any form of gambling, including pull-tabs.

According to Terry Galvin, Blaine�s community development director, the text of the ordinance will go to the planning commission on June 12. If approved by the commission, the ordinance will then move to city council, where it will be denied or approved.

City council members have already publicly stated, since the beginning of April, that they have no interest in gambling on the spit and will vote against it. �We�ve (city officials) all gotten a lot of response on this particular issue,� city manager Gary Tomsic said at Tuesday evening�s city council meeting. �There are some people in the community who think we are proposing gambling, and this is not the case. In fact, we are working to prohibit gambling. It is the consensus of the council that they are against gambling.�

To date, the city has received many letters, calls, and emails about gambling on the spit, and have responded to the communications, explaining the city�s opinion and intentions. The public is invited to share their thoughts on the gambling issue, in the form of a public hearing, at the June 12 planning commission meeting at 7 p.m. at city hall.

Council member Marsha Hawkins has stated she is against gambling, and is in favor of a public hearing, in order for the community to express their thoughts on the issue. �If we�ve already had this response, then I can only imagine we�ll have a larger response.�

In addition to the city�s stand on gambling, the Upper Skagit Tribe said it has no interest in gambling. Doreen Maloney, manager of the Upper Skagit Tribe, publicly stated in March that the tribe has no interested in bringing gambling to the Resort.

�No, no gambling. This property has so much potential. It must maintain its integrity. What�s good here has to stay here,� she said. �We are very pleased to be working and entering into a partnership here.�

According to Don Guglielmino, the general manager of the Skagit Tribe, the tribe recently bought into the resort, but he was unable to be reached before press time to provide additional information. In March, he said, �We are pleased to be associated with Semiahmoo Resort and the Trillium Corporation. There�s nothing like this setting.�

Semiahmoo Resort opened in 1987 as Washington state�s largest year-round destination resort. The Semiahmoo golf course, designed by Arnold Palmer, opened a year earlier in 1986.

The Skagit Valley Casino opened in December of 1995 and is located in Bow, 16 miles south of Bellingham. It is the only full-service casino resort on the I-5 corridor in the state, and features 64,000 square feet of entertainment and dining facilities.

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