Choctaw Casinos & Resorts wins big at SBC Awards North America 

Choctaw Nation’s Janie Dillard named Tribal Gaming Leader of the Year 

DURANT, Okla. (May 13, 2024)- Choctaw Casinos & Resorts won big at the 2024 SBC Awards North America in New York Thursday night, taking home three major industry awards. The SBC Awards North America recognizes the achievements of gaming and online betting operators in the U.S. and Canada.   

 Choctaw Casinos & Resorts was named Employer of the Year and was also recognized for its flagship property in Durant, which helped the casino brand earn Tribal Gaming Operator of the Year. Janie Dillard, Choctaw Nation’s senior executive officer over commerce, was named Tribal Gaming Leader of the Year

Dillard has been a key part of Choctaw Nation gaming and commerce expansion, continuing to find innovative ways to set the tribe apart since 1987. The SBC Awards recognized Dillard for her efforts in 2023, which included launching the award-winning brand campaign “Where the Players Play” featuring Dallas Cowboys legends Troy Aikman, Darren Woodson and Emmitt Smith, and Texas Rangers All-Star catcher Ivan Pudge Rodriguez. “Where the Players Play,” was especially big for Dillard because Choctaw was the first in the tribal gaming industry to incorporate star athletes into a casino brand. 

Dillard also spent much of 2023 planning and preparing for the grand opening of Choctaw Landing, Choctaw Casinos & Resorts newest location in Hochatown. The 100-room destination is different than other Choctaw casino locations Dillard has spearheaded, focusing more heavily on the Choctaw culture and creating a family friendly atmosphere. It includes 600 slot machines, eight table games, a restaurant, mercantile, pool and outdoor amphitheater. Construction of the multi-use property has created more than 2,000 new jobs and the project will have an economic impact of more than $211 million. Choctaw Landing held a soft opening in April, and the grand opening is Thursday, May 23, 2024. 

“For Janie, innovation is the key to moving forward. She’s been that way since the beginning,” said Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Chief Gary Batton. “Her curiosity and experience drive her to be the best in the industry. She is truly remarkable. As the gaming industry continues to grow, so does Janie. She is always one step ahead.” 

Dillard is also passionate about helping women rise through the ranks in the gaming industry, which has traditionally been male dominant. She serves as commissioner of the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women and travels throughout the nation speaking at women’s leadership conferences, such as the 2023 Dallas Mavericks’ “Be That Diamond” Symposium. 

Choctaw Casinos & Resorts’ Tribal Gaming Operator of the Year award comes after a year of improvement and big moves in the gaming industry. The brand’s “Where the Players Play” campaign made a big splash, as did the refreshed Choctaw Rewards Club. Choctaw became the first casino brand in the region to bring customers an all-encompassing rewards program, across all Choctaw Casinos, where guests can earn points on most non-gaming purchases. 

The Durant property also introduced an industry-leading promotion in 2023 – 3 Months 3 Millionaires – that saw three lucky rewards club members walk away millionaires last summer. The promotion was so successful that industry peers followed suit. The award is also a testament to the physical upgrades Choctaw Casino & Resort – Durant underwent in 2023, adding the five-venue District Food Hall that features Velvet Taco, as well as remodeling all 329 rooms inside the Grand Tower.  

Choctaw Casinos & Resorts took home Employer of the Year, thanks to its dedication to the associates who help make the brand stand out. In 2023, Choctaw Nation was finishing construction on 300 employee apartments in Durant and Broken Bow to make affordable housing a reality for casino associates.  

Choctaw Casinos & Resorts also partnered with Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology in 2023 to create a food and beverage training program at no cost to associates working within hospitality. The program also offers participants the opportunity to earn an associate degree.  

Additionally, employees can take advantage of the Employee Education Assistance Program (EEAP) which provides up to $5,000 per year in financial assistance to an accredited college or university for associates, bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate degree. 

“It’s an honor to see Choctaw Casinos & Resorts recognized for its efforts to not only stay at the front of industry trends, but also to prioritize the wellbeing of its associates,” said Heidi Grant, Senior Executive Officer of Commerce for Choctaw Nation. “We’re excited to continue finding ways to elevate Choctaw Casinos & Resorts for our guests and associates, alike.” 

Choctaw Casinos & Resorts was also a finalist for Social Gaming Operator of the Year and Marketing Campaign & Sponsorship of the Year. 


About Choctaw Casino & Resorts 

Owned and operated by the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, the third-largest Indian Nation in the United States with more than 225,000 tribal members and 12,000 employees. Choctaw Casinos & Resorts features a variety of gaming, hotel and resort properties throughout southeastern Oklahoma, including Durant, Grant, Pocola, Idabel, Broken Bow, McAlester, Stigler and Stringtown.  In spring 2024, Choctaw Nation opened a 100-room luxury resort, Choctaw Landing in Hochatown, OK.  For more information, visit

US Marshals Museum partners with Cherokee Nation to host Cherokee Freedmen exhibit in Fort Smith

Pictured from left: Travis Owens, Senior Vice President Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism; Shannon Buhl, Cherokee Nation Marshal; Melissa Payne, Cherokee Nation Freedmen Liason; S. Joe Crittenden, Cherokee Nation Secretary of Veteran Affairs; Cherokee Nation Deputy Principal Chief Bryan Warner; Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.; Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Shella Bowlin; Mayor of Ft. Smith, George McGill; Deputy Secretary of State Canaan Duncan; Molly Jarvis, SVP & Chief Operating Officer Cherokee Nation Businesses Cultural and Economic Development; Ben Johnson, President and CEO U.S. Marshals Museum.

Exhibit opens to the public May 11

FORT SMITH, Ark.The U.S. Marshals Museum is partnering with Cherokee Nation to share more about the tribe’s history with Black slavery. This is the third destination for the touring exhibit.

“We Are Cherokee: Cherokee Freedmen and the Right to Citizenship,” features the stories, history, images and documents of Cherokee Freedmen, alongside original artworks by Cherokee Nation artists. It opens to the public on May 11.

It is presented as part of the Cherokee Freedmen Art and History Project initiative, established by Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., to broaden Cherokee Nation’s understanding of the Cherokee Freedmen experience and ensure that it is included in the greater narrative of Cherokee history.  

“Every nation gains strength from embracing its entire narrative – triumphs, tragedies and difficult chapters. Cherokee history is no different,” Chief Hoskin said. “To honor our history fully, we have confronted all aspects of our past, including acknowledging painful moments, like the enslavement of others by our ancestors. By recognizing and sharing these chapters, we make our tribal nation stronger for the future. This historic exhibition, which is traveling for the first time beyond Oklahoma, tells the remarkable resilience of Cherokee Freedmen amid generations of adversity. That spirit is a bond that unites us as Cherokees today.”

The Freedmen experience is shared from Cherokee people’s earliest known participation in slavery in the 18th century on through various historical milestones in the decades that followed, including the adoption of plantation-style slavery among Cherokees, Indian Removal to the West and the American Civil War. It also shares how the Treaty of 1866 granted freed slaves in Cherokee Nation the same rights as native Cherokees. 

The exhibit discusses the steps taken by the tribe to strip Freedmen and their descendants of tribal citizenship and examines the 2017 U.S. District Court ruling that upheld the Treaty of 1866 and reaffirmed Cherokee Freedmen as citizens of the Cherokee Nation.

“It is an honor to partner with Cherokee Nation to host this special exhibit at the U.S. Marshals Museum,” said Dr. Terisa Riley, chair of the board of directors for the U.S. Marshals Museum and chancellor at University of Arkansas Fort Smith. “This timely exhibit is a profoundly brave and illuminating display that should challenge all of us to reckon with the history of enslaved people and of our collective humanity.”

The exhibit first debuted in Tahlequah at the Cherokee National History Museum in 2022, with an impactful narrative that details the fight Cherokee Freedmen endured to take back their treaty-protected right to Cherokee Nation citizenship. It then went on to 101 E. Archer in downtown Tulsa in cooperation with the University of Tulsa’s Oklahoma Center for the Humanities.

“We Are Cherokee: Cherokee Freedmen and the Right to Citizenship” at the U.S. Marshals Museum is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. Admission to the museum is $15 for adults, $13 for seniors 65 and older, and $8 for youth ages 6-17 and college students with photo ID. Children under 6 years old, current military, law enforcement and U.S. marshals receive free admission.

The U.S. Marshals Museum is located at 789 Riverfront Drive, Fort Smith, AR 72901.

Comanche Nation Entertainment Appoints  

Chief Executive Officer 

Steven Doyle selected to oversee six gaming properties 

LAWTON, Okla., (May 13, 2024) – Comanche Nation Entertainment has named Steven Doyle as its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), previously serving as the company’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO).  

Doyle now oversees Comanche Nation Entertainment’s six gaming properties throughout Southwest Oklahoma, in addition to its travel plazas, smoke shops and quick stops. The properties include Comanche Red River Hotel and Casino in Devol, Comanche Nation Casino in Lawton, Comanche Star Casino in Walters, Comanche Spur Casino in Elgin, Comanche Cache Casino in Cache and Comanche War Pony Casino in Devol. 

“As I step into the role of CEO for Comanche Nation Entertainment, I look forward to leading this dynamic organization into its next chapter of growth and innovation,” said Doyle. “This is an opportunity to collaborate with our talented team and further enhance our commitment to delivering exceptional gaming experiences. Together, we will continue to advance our position as a leader in the tribal gaming industry.”  

As CEO, Doyle is responsible for hiring and supervising Comanche Nation Entertainment’s management team, developing and implementing policies and procedures, managing budgets, overseeing operations and ensuring compliance with all relevant laws and regulations governing gaming operations. 

Having worked with tribal, non-tribal and some of the industry’s largest gaming operators, Doyle brings more than three decades of experience to his new position. Prior to assuming the role of CEO, he managed the company’s financial operations, including budgeting, forecasting, analysis, investor relations, operational efficiencies, among others. 

For more information about Comanche Nation Entertainment and its properties, visit  

Otoe-Missouria Tribe expands recycling program with $1.5 million EPA grant

The Otoe-Missouria Tribe receives a grant check from the EPA SWIFR program for $1.5 million. In the photo from left to right are Water Quality Technician Bobbi Dove, Environmental Department Coordinator Angela Heim, Otoe-Missouria Chairman John Shotton, Network Exchange Assistant Shawna Littlecrow and Environmental Technician Malinda Wennin. photo courtesy of Otoe-Missouria Tribe

A federal grant will help one Oklahoma tribe increase its recycling efforts for citizens and non-citizens.

The Otoe-Missouria Tribe in northern Oklahoma plans to increase its recycling rate to 50% with the assistance of a $1.5 million EPA grant.

The Otoe-Missouria Tribe's environmental coordinator, Angela Heim, said this EPA grant is the first of its kind for her tribal nation. It will help recapture waste that usually goes into landfills, creating a better environment for those in the area.

“Having this recycling center would be to encourage and promote and create a cleaner, healthier, rural community because we are underserved,” Heim said.

She explained the funds would go toward a recycling center that will be built for all community members, including people living in surrounding areas such as Marland and White Eagle. This new center will supplement the recycling program currently in place, which currently has a recycling rate of 20%.

Heim said her tribe didn’t have a recycling program 20 years ago; however, since then, it has expanded to servicing recycling for all 21 departments located inside the tribal complex, allowing recycling for some plastics, paper, cardboard and aluminum.

“Over the last ten years, we started small,” Heim said. “Our department then broadened out to the other departments… Every two weeks we pick up recycling from the different departments here, and we have a lot of participation.”

Heim said the plan is for the new recycling center to be built and operating by the summer of 2025.