Miccosukee Tribe’s New Florida Casino Begins Construction
The Miccosukee Tribe, a well-known tribal casino operator in the Sunshine State since the ’90s, is embarking on an ambitious expansion project in Ochopee.
The Tribe broke ground recently on The Miccosukee Service Plaza Casino at the Miccosukee Service Plaza just off I-75, exit 49.
The tribe says the venue will be the first service stop casino venue in Florida.
“We haven’t had an expansion in about two decades since the resort,” said “Popeye” William Osceola, the Miccosukee Tribe’s business council secretary, said at the groundbreaking ceremony (pictured).
“It’s important because we need room to grow as a community — we have community members living here, but if we can show that this facility is working, then more people may come here.”
Strategic Location and Offerings
Nestled just off Exit 49 and Snake Road in Ochopee, the new casino is ambitiously set to open later this year.
Spanning 8,500 sq. ft., it will house 150 slot machines in a nonsmoking environment. Positioned uniquely at the only rest stop on the so-called Alligator Alley, the Tribe hopes it will attract travelers and locals.
The Miccosukee Tribe’s casino operations started more than two decades ago, with the Miccosukee Indian Bingo Hall, which opened in 1990.
Responding to the surging demand, they expanded with the Miccosukee Casino & Resort in 1999. Located in the Everglades west of Florida International University, this resort has hosted big name events over the years, from arts showcases to concerts featuring country music artists like Willie Nelson and Randy Travis.
Osceola compared the tribe’s expansion in the state to a steadily growing tree while speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony.
“We don’t have a lot of room where we’re at, and we’d like to grow. A tree doesn’t get bigger if you contain its roots,” he said.
The Miccosukee face stiff competition from other Florida brick & mortar casinos, including the global corporation Hard Rock International, which is owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
The Miccosukee Casino & Resort is just a few miles from Hard Rock Hollywood, which is one of the most profitable casino venues in the state. Hard Rock also owns several other giant casino resorts across Florida and the U.S.
The Miccosukee will be hoping the convenient and highly visible location of the new Service Plaza Casino will help it compete with the multi-billion dollar Hard Rock casinos.
Talbert Cypress, 41, is the leader and chairman of the Miccosukee Tribe’s business council. He thinks the tourist-heavy Alligator Alley location will bring much-needed income to the local community.
“This is original reservation land, and we haven’t had the resources to build out here, and we’re hoping this does that,” he said.
Tribal casino operations are big business across the U.S, bringing in some $40.9 billion in the fiscal year 2022.
The Seminole Tribe, competing directly with Miccosukee, is one of the biggest of all the Tribal gaming operators. It is currently involved in a decade-long legal battle over the future of online sports betting in Florida, while also recently upgrading its Hard Rock BET mobile app across the country.