Oklahoma: River Spirit Casino to convert former buffet into sports viewing facility, eyes potential sportsbook

The River Spirit Casino Resort is in the process of converting its former buffet into an area dedicated to sports viewing, as announced by the property’s officials. This transformation, budgeted at $17.5 million, aims to create the largest sports viewing space in Oklahoma and possibly establish the state’s first sports betting house, should Oklahoma legalize its market.

The buffet area at the casino, located at 8330 Riverside Parkway, was closed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and has since remained vacant. The conversion work began about a month ago, with completion expected by July in time for the Summer Olympics, Pat Crofts, CEO of Muscogee Nation Gaming Enterprises, told Tulsa World.

Sports bar rendering

The 14,000-square-foot space will feature several amenities, including:

Gridiron Sports Bar and Lounge

  • A high-resolution LED video wall measuring 53 feet by 14 feet.
  • A 27-seat center bar featuring 24 mounted 70-inch televisions and bar-top gaming.
  • Three additional LED video screens and 30 more 70-inch televisions among guest seating.
  • A new kitchen with a full food service menu.
  • Seating for 157 guests.
  • Two digital bays with Top Golf swing suites for golf simulation and other sports.

The Locker Room/banquet space

  • Seating for more than 100 guests at private watch party.
  • A 21-foot by 12-foot LED video wall for sports and group events.

VIP lounge

  • Exclusivity for River Spirit’s top-tier-level Players Club members.
  • Private bar, lounge and restrooms for an elevated hospitality experience.

Vip Lounge rendering

Crofts said that, should sports betting become legal in the state, a sportsbook would be incorporated under the 53-foot LED screen. “We will be ready,” he told Tulsa World. “I don’t know if we will be the first (sports book in the state), but I’m sure we can be one of the first.”

The project includes $1.6 million for audio and video technology alone. “The addition of Gridiron sports bar will continue our commitment to bring exceptional entertainment experiences to our visitors, while elevating the guest experience to one that you cannot find anywhere else,” Muscogee Nation Principal Chief David Hill said in a statement.

I-5 Design Build, an architectural design firm based in Lacey, Washington, is the principal responsible for the project. The company has experience in projects at over 125 entertainment properties, including many Native American casino-resorts.

I-5 Design Build has successfully completed multiple remodel, refurbishment and expansion projects for the Muscogee Creek Nation Casinos. All have been completed with the highest of quality, on time and on budget with minimal disruption to existing operations,” Crofts said.

In addition to the Gridiron Sports Bar, projects for the casino also include repurposing the existing Scoreboard sports bar for a new guest amenity, according to officials.

With the legalization of sports betting in almost 40 states since a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision struck down a federal ban outside of Nevada, Oklahoma remains in discussion on this topic. However, progress toward legalization has seemingly stalled.