A number of paths wind through the slot machines, card tables and
entertainment memorabilia adorning Catoosa's Hard Rock Hotel and
Casino. Patrons seemingly walk the pulsing maze with ease, content
with whatever destiny awaits them.
Black-clad servers aid them along the way, refreshing their
drinks or retrieving their discarded cups and papers. And that's
when the Cherokee Nation's recycling program kicks in.
"They're so adept at it, usually you don't even see them do it,"
said Molly Jarvis, vice president of shared services, marketing,
communications and cultural tourism for Cherokee Nation
With all the cash changing hands, the casino industry has long
enjoyed a prized "green" association in the public's eye. But with
their acres of parking, spreading rooftops and boundless flashing
light displays, many accented by tobacco smoke, these same casinos
rarely come across as environmentally friendly.
But such images can be deceiving. FireLake Grand Casino actually
powers its lights, air purifiers, games and other electrical systems
with two geothermal wells. It has more planned as the Citizen
Potawatomi Nation prepares to start construction this summer on a
hotel to serve its large Shawnee complex.
"It basically lets us consume up to 85 percent less energy," said
Brad Peltier, director of marketing and public relations. "OG&E
helped us install it. For the nearly five years we've been open,
it's saved us a considerable amount of money."
The Cherokees, operators of the Hard Rock, seven other casinos
and two other hotels around northeastern Oklahoma, recycled 279 tons
of paper, aluminum, plastic and other materials last year. That
included none of the construction materials CNE recycled in
completing "The Joint" concert hall.
Since 2008 the casino industry has embraced a trendy but enduring
"green" cycle. Native American tribal operators led much of this,
reflecting their historic alignment with nature, although several
traditional gaming operators jumped on the bandwagon, with some Las
Vegas complexes pursuing Leadership in Energy and Environmental
Design, or LEED, certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
A few operators incorporated environmental improvements even
within some casino traditions. The Hard Rock offers 10,500 square
feet of smoke-free gambling space to match the clean air in its
hotel, convention space and The Joint. …