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Cowlitz Tribes' big casino opens, causes big I-5 traffic jam

Entertainment, gaming center cost $510 million

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Monday's rain couldn't keep gamblers away from the Ilani Casino.

The opening of the Cowlitz Tribes' massive casino near La Center, in southwest Washington, caused an eight-mile traffic backup on northbound Interstate 5.

The Washington State Department of Transportation said all of the casino's 3,000 parking spaces were taken, forcing traffic to back up onto the freeway.

The casino is about 25 miles north of Portland, making it the closest major gambling venue for residents of Oregon's largest city.

The casino said arrivals via drop off can still be accommodated and the parking situation will be updated hourly on Twitter.

The $510 million, 378,000-square-foot entertainment and gaming complex includes 100,000 square feet dedicated to the gaming, with 2,500 slot machines and 75 card tables, along with other games likes craps, as well as 15 restaurants, bars and retail stores.

Ending a decade-long court fight, the U.S. Supreme Court recently declined to hear a challenge to the gambling complex from card room owners in nearby La Center, concerned the new facility will draw away business.

The complex is projected to draw away at least $200 million annually from the card rooms, other tribal casinos and the Oregon Lottery.

Cowlitz Tribe Chairman Bill Iyall said the resort is expected to attract 4.5 million visitors a year and create 1,200 jobs in the region.

 


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