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First Phase of River Spirit's Margaritaville Expansion Opens

The Margaritaville casino and restaurant are now open at River Spirit Casino Resort.

Muscogee (Creek) Nation Chief James Floyd said the tribe was given the land it stands upon in the 1830s because it was thought to be worthless for farming, ranching or building.

"However, decades of leadership have held this land as a great asset for our people," Floyd said. "We've nurtured it, and we've preserved it. Today, we're standing on what can only be described as 'upeckv,' which means a dream."

The Jimmy Buffett-themed casino and restaurant are part of a $365 million total expansion by the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Oklahoma Secretary of State Chris Benge said state officials like seeing that kind of investment in the state, and they like seeing tribes work to make their citizens’ lives better.

"The profits that are generated from a facility like this, it goes into health care and education," Benge said.

The 50,000 square foot casino has 850 gaming machines and 27 table games. The connected 27-story hotel is set to open in mid-December. The entire project should be done by the spring.

Though the Margaritaville lifestyle is all about relaxing on the beach, it took two years and more than 4,100 workers to build what's there now of the new resort.

Tulsa Regional Chamber CEO Mike Neal said once all of Margaritaville is open, the economic impact will be $135 million a year.

"This does not include the impact it will have on the regional visitor industry, but I agree, this is indeed a game-changer for the community," Neal said.

A Parrothead contingent at the opening was not disappointed. Buffett himself will play at the new Paradise Cove Theater in late December.