Andrew Joseph Jr., Chairman, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation

Andrew Joseph Jr., Chairman
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation

12 Tribes Lake Chelan Casino in Manson, WA; 12 Tribes Omak Casino Hotel in Omak, WA; 12 Tribes Coulee Dam Casino in Coulee Dam, WA

CHALLENGES/REWARDS: The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation operates three casinos: 12 Tribes Lake Chelan Casino, 12 Tribes Omak Casino Hotel, and 12 Tribes Coulee Dam Casino. The biggest challenge for the Tribes and the gaming industry as a whole is by far the lack of staffing in various departments throughout the casino. It has become very difficult to recruit and retain new applicants since the pandemic, especially in the entry level positions such as food and beverage, security and hotel departments. Additional challenges with the food and beverage side of gaming include the rising costs of commodities that increase menu costs, along with supply chain issues in our food and beverage, and repairs and maintenance. These challenges resulted in the closing of one of the casino’s food venues.

Despite these challenges, in 2021 and 2022, the Tribes’ gaming operation has distributed record breaking distributions to the Tribes due to increased revenues. This is noteworthy given the substantial impact that COVID-19 had on the entire entertainment industry.

PROMOTING LEADERSHIP: The Colville Tribal Federal Corporation manages the Tribes’ gaming enterprises, and is managed by a board of five directors, all of whom are Colville tribal members. Strong financial and administrative leadership are required characteristics of a director to ensure the Tribes’ enterprises are successful.

The CEO of the corporation, along with the executive team create a strategic plan and meet monthly to go over strategic goals and communicate any ongoing issues. This process allows the executive team to highlight those employees demonstrating leadership in meeting the strategic goals and ultimately promoting eligible team members.

Casino management has also implemented supervisor and leadership training and increases in annual pay when an employee meets the goals set forth in their performance plan.

We look for people that will show kindness and respect to others – people that will treat guests in a good way. Also, people who are not afraid to get in and help out. Sometimes you’ll have leaders that will give assignments and that’s all they do. The best leaders get in there and help, so we look for those kinds of people. It makes the staff feel more like they want to be a part of the team and makes a big difference.  

INITIATIVES: On September 15, 2021, the Department of the Interior approved the Tribes’ sports wagering compact. We’ve partnered with IGT and will be implementing sports betting in the very near future.

Before we ever had any casinos, we gambled – we have a stick game and our people also horse race. We are actually going to have one of our Indian relay races coming up in Okanagan, and a lot of the tribes get involved because many different tribes are horse people as well. A long time ago, people with those horses would bet on each other and who was going to win. So, sports betting is something that we have always had from way, way back. To me, it’s almost more traditional than the casino slot machines or playing cards.

Our tribe is always looking at all kinds of opportunities. We have high power bills, even though we have two of the biggest power generators within the boundaries – Grand Coulee Dam and Chief Joe Dam. We just had somone come in that wants to look at doing solar to try to bring savings to our members that live on the reservations. Looking at alternative energy to help out with those costs is really important.