Wind Creek Wetumpka Casino opensPublished 8:35am Tuesday, December 17, 2013
It was supposed to be the first hotel and casino built by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, but the plan changed.
So when the plans were put in place to build Wind Creek Wetumpka, tribal chairman Buford Rolin was thinking bigger.
“Since Atmore was first, we wanted Wetumpka to be the biggest,” Rolin said following the ribbon cutting and grand opening of the $246 million casino Tuesday.
The 85,000-square-foot casino floor along with 2,520 games were open to the public for the first time at noon Tuesday.
Jane West of Hoover drove down Tuesday morning in hopes of playing in the former gaming facility across the street, but found it closed.
“So I just got in line here around 8:15 a.m.,” she said. “I’ve just been spending my time chatting it up with the other people in line with me.”
Joe Clark of Birmingham said he was glad to see Wind Creek Wetumpka open.
“It’s much closer than Atmore,” he said. “And with it being closer, it cuts the travel time and saves me money.”
While the casino and the five restaurants are now open for business, the 20-story hotel is still under construction.
Rolin confirmed it will be early February, at best, before the hotel opens.
The hotel will be open 365 days a year and feature 283 rooms, including a 5,000-square-foot penthouse.
Rolin has already previewed some of the rooms within the hotel and offered some inside advice to potential customers.
“The view of the river from the fourth and fifth floor is the best I’ve seen,” he said.
Atmore Mayor Jim Staff said Wetumpka will continue to benefit with the state’s largest casino in its backyard.
“First, they bring a lot of jobs to the community and secondly, they are great neighbors within the community. They are always willing to pitch in to help their community,” Staff said.
Wind Creek Wetumpka general manager Cody Williamson was unsure the total number of customers served Tuesday.
“I’m not sure how many, but it looked like there was a good crowd for our opening day,” he said. “I’m not too worried about the amount of people as I am ensuring they have had a good time.”
The only visible hiccup within the casino was the 16,000 gallon shark tank was not ready for viewing.
The tank will be available for viewing in mid-February, Williamson said.