Brenda Wade Schmidt
A more than $30 million upgrade to the Royal River Casino and Hotel will be celebrated this weekend with a relaunch party that includes fireworks, prizes and two concerts.
The casino has spent much of the past three years redoing all areas of the facility, including the hotel, gift shop, casino floor and most recently, the restaurant, which reopened last week. “The entire property has been gone through,” said Tim Morrissey, senior operations director. “This is a major upgrade. We went through and renovated and improved everything from the ground up.”
In the process, Royal River expanded its casino floor, put in a new center bar, added a VIP lounge, painted the building outside, put in new landscaping and added two digital signs, one near the casino entrance and the other near the corner of Veterans and S.D. Highway 34.
The relaunch celebration is Friday through Sunday, with drawings each day, ending with the giveaway of a GMC Yukon XLT on Sunday. A 7:30 p.m. ribbon cutting Friday will be followed by fireworks and a Lonestar concert at 8 p.m. On Saturday, the Eli Young Band will perform at 8 p.m. Tickets for both concerts are available online or at the casino gift shop.
The investment, which includes replacing electrical, air handling and ventilation systems, “future proofs” the casino for years to come, Morrissey said. The building is 22 years old.
“Other than the exterior four walls of the casino, everything has been taken down to the bare stone and rebuilt,” he said. “We’ll continue to make capital investments in the property to keep it competitive and do our best to remain the entertainment destination for southeast South Dakota.”
With the restaurant remodel, the casino has added a new menu and theme nights for its buffet. Mondays are all-American night, while Tuesdays are Mexican and Wednesdays are Asian. Thursdays are Italian night, while Friday’s seafood night and Saturday’s smokehouse night stays the same. Sunday brunch will continue, too.
The expansion and renovation will help the overall Flandreau economy, too, Morrissey said. “With Royal River and the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe making this large economic investment in the property, our goal is to continue driving our existing guests and new guests into Flandreau,” he said.
Carleen Wild Wilson, president of the Flandreau Development Corporation, said the casino is a huge economic driver in the community.
“It’s vital they do well for the tribe and the community,” she said. “We’re internally grateful that they’ve made this reinvestment into the hotel, the restaurant, the casino and the convention space, so much of what visitors of Flandreau come to the community to use. The rest of the community benefits from that.”
She encouraged local folks to go and check out the newly remodeled facility if they haven’t been there in a while. “We all need to do what we can across the community to support each other.”
The casino will continue to hold its summer rodeo and will look at other opportunities to sponsor events, he said. The casino employs about 265 people.