From roadside casino to World’s Biggest.
From its origins as a small bingo hall off I-35 nearly three decades ago to its current status as the World’s Biggest Casino, WinStar World Casino and Resort has a storied and surprising history.
The Chickasaw Nation opens a bingo hall to the east of Interstate 35, just north of the Oklahoma-Texas border.
In July, the bingo hall expands to include a small selection of electronic games covering 190,000 square feet and is renamed WinStar Casino.
WinStar Golf Club, an 18-hole facility located southeast of the main casino, opens to the public.
The Chickasaw Nation begins site preparation to double the size of WinStar Casino. At the time, the facility offered more than 2,100 electronic games in three distinct venues: the Palace, the Center Ring and the Mariachi areas. The facility also offers 44 poker tables and 24 blackjack tables to round out its gaming opportunities. There was also paper-play bingo and off-track betting, as well as three restaurants, a deli and the 1,500-seat ShowPlace Theatre.
The expansion would double the size of the facility to 380,000 square feet of gaming space, with 6,000 electronic games and nearly 100 table games. The project also includes constructing a façade that replicates cityscapes from international cities: London, Paris, Rome, Madrid and Beijing. Beginning at the northwest corner of the facility, five gaming “plazas” themed after these international cities are constructed, along with a 2,500-seat, multi-purpose room. Known as the Global Event Center, this event and conference center can be converted easily from convention center to concert arena. This convention space can be divided into separate rooms for smaller events and eight additional breakout rooms surround the space.
In December, the expansion project is complete, and officials rebrand the venue as WinStar World Casino.
Two lodging options are announced in the summer: WinStar RV Park and The WinStar World Casino Hotel, a 12-story, 395-room facility. The 15-acre WinStar RV Park opens in August, with nearly 200 RV, a sand volleyball court, outdoor pavilion and clubhouse. The RV Park is located to the east of the casino and just north of the entrance to the WinStar Course. Another expansion project takes place that includes the remodel of the original casino area. Three new gaming plazas are renovated to reflect the international theme and façade, featuring the cities of Vienna, New York and Cairo.
In March, Oklahoma native and country music artist Toby Keith joins Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby and other dignitaries at WinStar to open Keith’s famed restaurant and entertainment venue, Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill. Crews began working on an additional nine holes for the WinStar Golf Course. Upon completion of this project, WinStar Golf Course will feature 27 holes.
WinStar Golf Academy and a new nine-hole course is completed and opens in the spring. The facility offers a fitness room, two indoor hitting bays with cutting-edge cameras for swing analysis, golf simulators in each hitting bay and an advanced putting studio. Built to complement the existing topography, all courses feature sandy natural areas, native prairie grasses, tree groupings, lakes and native wildlife throughout their 225 acres. In the fall, a new parking garage connecting to the northwest corner of the casino opens for use. The garage holds nearly 1,400 cars and increases the net parking capacity for the gaming facility by 900 spaces. Featured on the exterior of the parking garage are two gigantic video mesh boards. In addition, notable landmarks like the Guggenheim, Chrysler Building and Parthenon are added to the façade.
The Rome Gaming Plaza is expanded with an additional 62,000 square feet on the casino’s interior and a grand entrance to the north side of the building. The project adds 400 electronic games, three new restaurants and MIST – a nightclub which features music and dancing. The expansion also provides easy access to the casino’s concert venue, the Global Event Center. The 3,500-seat concert venue helps WinStar earn a nomination for the Academy of Country Music Casino of the Year award in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015. In the summer, the amenities at WinStar’s RV Park expand with the addition of a swimming pool dedicated solely to guests of the RV Park.
In November, WinStar World Casino and Resort opens a new hotel tower. Joining the existing 12-story WinStar World Casino Hotel, the new tower stands 18 stories and boasts 500 upscale guest rooms. Hotel amenities include the trendy Terrace View Café, with casual American dining and Rotunda Bar, a large luxurious pool with two hot tubs and a fire pit. In conjunction with the opening of the new hotel tower, the London Gaming Plaza is expanded with new gaming features and dining options, adding more than 56,000 square feet. The expansion project includes Casino 360º, Regal High Stakes and The Gran Via Buffet. Casino 360º, a casino within WinStar World Casino and Resort, offers a dynamic and interactive community gaming experience. The gaming room greets visitors with lights, social media interaction, games-within-games, and elaborate jackpot celebrations. The grand opening of Casino 360º was held in November. Regal High Stakes offers 62 electronic gaming machines and 10 table games. Gran Via Buffet, located between the Madrid and London Gaming Plazas, is a 500-seat buffet that boasts seven cooking stations and features more than 200 food selections from around the world.
The Inn at WinStar is closed to the public in September for a complete interior renovation. Updates include new paint, carpet, furniture, bedding, in-room safes and 47-inch televisions. In addition, the lobby is redesigned to include new furniture. Two conference rooms and a business center are added. The project lasts approximately seven months. In May, WinStar World Casino and Resort expands once again. An additional 500-room hotel tower opens, bringing the property’s total room capacity to nearly 1,400. Pool Tower South is 15 stories and 297,000 square feet. The resort-style hotel pool also receives upgrades, including six private cabanas, two whirlpools and a pool bar. Also this month, Dairy Queen and Orange Julius open a Sweets and Treats restaurant in the New York Gaming Plaza. The casino expands with a Keno Lounge. Players can sit in 17 “club-style” Keno chairs while they watch the game transpire on four monitors. The lounge includes two writer stations with dedicated staff to assist patrons. In October, Chips ‘N Ales restaurant is expanded to accompany more guests.
Chickasaw Nation officials break ground on the WinStar Convention Center in April, a 66,950-square-foot venue to be located at the southeast corner of the casino. Also in April, The Inn at WinStar is reopened after its renovation.
The WinStar Convention Center is completed in September. Chickasaw Nation officials hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new facility on Sept. 9. The multipurpose convention center features a grand and junior ballroom, executive-style boardrooms and a kitchen to provide catering for events.