The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde took advantage of their reservation's prime location near Highway 18, equidistant from the state capitol in Salem and the coastal retreat of Lincoln City, to build a casino that would ultimately draw more visitors than any other attraction in Oregon (second is Multnomah Falls). It's an irresistable rest stop on the lengthy drive between Portland and Lincoln City, considering the bathrooms are clean, fountain drinks are free, and since it's a casino, they'll obviously let you smoke indoors.

Upon entering, you'll probably notice that the place isn't a typical cheesy Indian gambling hall. Since it opened in October 1995, Spirit Mountain Casino has become the most successful casino in the Pacific Northwest, partly due to the 90,000 square feet of gaming space and the variety of games available. While many other casinos are prohibited from offering much besides blackjack, keno, and various and sundry slots, Spirit Mountain has craps, roulette, pai gow poker, and off-track betting as well. Although the casino offers alternative gaming areas that are relatively smoke-free, the paths to get to those areas may not be. Spirit Mountain also has five restaurants, a hotel/lodge with 100 guest rooms (US$90 to US$110 per night), and an auditorium that hosts performances from the usual middle to upper-middle tier celebrities. As expected with any populated area in the Northwest, the casino does indeed have a Starbucks in its lobby.

As part of the casino's recent five year anniversary, management began committing all profits into the Spirit Mountain Community Fund, which covers a variety of programs, investments, and charities associated with the 5050 member tribe. Casino revenue is viewed by the tribe as a tool to achieve economic self-sufficiency, and tribal leaders are committed to charting a future path that does not rely solely on the casino. All I wanted to know was, if this is an Indian casino, possibly a great Indian casino, how come I've never seen any actual Indians working there?

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