For the first time in 24 years, the Miccosukee Tribe is expanding its gambling enterprise by building its second Florida casino.
At a groundbreaking event last week, tribe officials said they would build the facility next to its Miccosukee Service Plaza in Ochopee, which it operates on Alligator Alley, a stretch of I-75 that links both sides of the state through the Everglades. The tribe’s first gaming location, the Miccosukee Casino & Resort, was built in 1999 in Miami on the bones of what was known at the time as the Miccosukee Indian Bingo Hall.
“We’re excited to see the opportunity it’s going to bring for the tribe and the resources that it’s going to bring to establish our community out here,” Talbert Cypress said at the ceremony. Cypress is the tribe’s business council chairman.
New Miccosukee casino details
Located 49 miles west of Fort Lauderdale, the Miccosukee Service Plaza casino will feature 150 slot machines and 8,500 square feet of entertainment space. It is slated to open in November. A part of a multi-million-dollar expansion of the Miccosukee Tribe’s operations, the Everglades-themed facility will also sell beer and wine.
The casino will be next to the only service station on Alligator Alley, an 80-mile stretch of highway, so it’s bound to have a rapt audience for travelers seeking a quick break from the cross-Florida trip.
“This is original reservation land, and we haven’t had the resources to build out here, and we’re hoping this does that,” Cypress told the Miami Herald, pointing out the new casino will bring in more income for the tribe.
Miccosukee gaming expansion
The Miccosukee Tribe first ventured into the gambling industry by constructing the Miccosukee Indian Bingo Hall in 1990. Nine years later, the tribe built a resort and gaming facility on the same site that currently has 2,000 slot machines and a 20-table poker room. The original casino rests 21 miles west of downtown Miami at the tip of the Everglades.
The tribe touts the resort is in “growth mode,” with plans for a new poker room at the original facility. A “new upscale lounge” is planned to open Sept. 11, according to the tribe’s website.
“We’re very excited about the trust the (Miccosukee) community has put into us to get this project done, and, hopefully, whatever we can do here can be a springboard for the next generation,” secretary of the business council, “Popeye” William Osceola, said at the ceremony.
History of the Miccosukee Tribe in Florida
The Miccosukee Tribe was recognized by the US Secretary of the Interior in 1962, establishing the tribal members as a sovereign nation. Membership of the Everglades-based tribe is approximately 605, all direct descendants of the 100 that relocated from the original Creek Nation in Georgia and Alabama in the 1800s.
The tribe is one of two Florida nations, along with the Seminoles, recognized federally. This allows the nation to operate Class II gaming facilities offering poker, bingo and slot machines as gambling options. Six Seminole casinos, including two branded with the Hard Rock name, offer Class III gambling outlined in the tribe’s gaming compact with the state. That compact allows them to offer sports betting, craps and roulette. The terms of that deal are tied up in a court battle.
Built for $45 million, the tribe’s 302-room resort and casino generates $72 million–$106 million annually, according to one estimate. In 2022, the casino served as a temporary shelter for Florida residents displaced in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.