Stockbridge-Munsee Tribal President Shannon Holsey cuts the first piece of cake during a celebration ceremony Thursday afternoon at North Star Casino Resort in Bowler
North Star Mohican Casino Resorts celebrated 25 years in gaming on Thursday and invited the public to celebrate along with them. The resort put on a free barbecue and held a ceremonial cake cutting to recognize the progress that they’ve made since their humble beginnings.
“We started in a pole barn and we started off with bingo and now we’ve evolved into a full-fledged gaming resort with hotel amenities and a wonderful, fabulous entertainment venue as well,” said Stockbridge-Munsee Tribal President Shannon Holsey.
While there’s much to be proud of over the accomplishments during the 25-year run, Holsey says one thing in particular stands out.
“It’s the fact that we are the largest employer in the county,” she said. “It speaks volumes to our investment, not only in our county, but the commitment to our community. I think that’s what it really is because at the end of the day it is a casino, but it’s so much more than that to us. It’s about partnership and community building and that’s really reflective of what the Stockbridge-Munsee Tribe does respectively in our community and as a whole.”
Not only does North Star Casino employ close to 500 staff members, the revenue received by Stockbridge-Munsee goes back into the community locally, like assisting with educating members and providing healthcare. They also assist Shawano County directly in offsetting their budget, or by providing officers at-large because the agencies are cross-deputized.
North Star hopes to be able to replicate the success they’ve sustained thus far and they believe it’s a simple recipe for success: ensuring their customers have a great time.
“That’s just really part of our vision currently, to be the premier destination casino resort in Wisconsin,” said North Star General Manager Michael Bonakdar. “We want to be number one. We want to make sure our customers feel number one when they join us here. Our overall mission is to provide friendlier service. It can’t get simpler than that.”
Becoming number one doesn’t come without its challenges. One lies just 17 miles away, after it was announced the Ho-Chunk Casino near Wittenberg would expand at their location.
The Stockbridge contends that the expansion is not what the Wittenberg facility is licensed for, and if the larger casino is allowed to open, it could put a crimp into the business generated at their casino in Bowler.
The tribe filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Wisconsin in April for not protecting their interests and rights. They’ve also threatened to withhold payment of $923,000 to the state because of the dispute.
Regardless of what happens, however, Holsey assures they’ll make every effort to be the best casino in the area for their customers.
“We’re going to always strive to be that casino of choice through excellence, great customer service and all the things we need to do because customers have choices,” she explained. “We want to be that casino of choice, so we’re going to continue to improve our amenities, improve the service and quality of food and entertainment that we provide for our guests. We’re going to continue to do that regardless of what happens [with the lawsuit.]”