Craig Harper, Chief, Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma

Craig Harper, Chief
Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma

Buffalo Run Casino & Resort in Miami, OK

CHALLENGES/OPPORTUNITIES: Like many tribal and public casinos across the nation, navigating the COVID-19 pandemic and aftermath is our Enterprises toughest business challenge. Can Buffalo Run Casino & Resort ever get back to opening 24 hours a day? Can we attract talent during a worker shortage likely to last for years? Market employers are offering hefty employment new hire sign-on bonuses, do we do the same? Team members are quitting with no notice, joining companies who are offering more up front. We have seen senior team members retire early, how do we encourage them staying years longer?

Enterprise quarterly turnover is increasing, can it be slowed down? Buffalo Run Casino & Resort is a mid-scale property, and we knew late in 2020 in order for our business to see growth, we needed a new 18-month aggressive strategic plan with a clear path of execution. This became leadership’s biggest opportunity.

KEY TO SUCCESS: The decision in early 2021 to invest millions of dollars into the strategy initiative of employee engagement, job satisfaction, and leadership training programs is taking root. Employees in all levels of positions are participating in quarterly training and development workshops. Top talent employees are also receiving cross-training for future advancement opportunities in different departments. Two top female performers were cross trained and promoted into casino manager positions. A minimum wage adjustment taking all hourly employees up to $13.00 hr. was recently rolled out. So far so good – turnover is dropping and the human resources team plans to roll out an employee satisfaction survey this month.

FUTURE DEVELOPMENT: On July 14, 2021, the Peoria Tribe Business Committee celebrated the grand opening of a $3.2 million casino renovation. Two new restaurants and culinary concepts opened, which introduce our guests to two delicious dining experiences. Additionally, the casino back space has all been upgraded and remodeled. In addition to the newest slot themes, guests will now see at the grand entrance a beautiful Back Woods Bar, upgraded lighting, entertainment stage and dance floor, and new flooring and carpeting.

The Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma is pursuing opportunities to diversify and expand the tribal programs available to our citizens, be a vital economic driver in our community, and a good neighbor. The Department of Commerce within the tribal organization was developed to bring employment, investment, and economic prosperity to the tribe. Through dynamic and innovative collaborations, we are building a business environment that supports business growth, job expansion and shared community prosperity.