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One Grand Year

June 5, 2012, 10:03 PM by David Brown

One Grand Year

The Grand Falls Casino Resort will celebrate its one year anniversary on Saturday, June 9.

The casino, located just miles from the heart of Sioux Falls, has drawn in plenty of cash and customers since its grand opening and management hopes their luck continues into year two and beyond.

"It's been a whirlwind, but a lot of fun," Grand Falls Casino Resort general manager Sharon Haselhoff said.

It may be celebrating its first birthday, but the Grand Falls Casino Resort is still a novelty for those looking for some adventure.

"We still have new customers coming to our property for the first time," Haselhoff said. "And I think they're wowed by all the amenities."

Located just across the South Dakota/Iowa border, Grand Falls may not be in the usual casino location, but it's paying off big time.

"This is a $120 million resort and in less than one year, it went from a cornfield to this beautiful resort," Haselhoff said.

Since its opening, the casino's brought in more than $52 million in gaming revenue alone. Hotel accommodations and other entertainment only add to that figure, Haselhoff says the most important factor in Grand Falls' success is retaining steady customers.

"Folks were in awe of what we had to offer and I still think we get that every single day," Haselhoff said.

"We come two or three times a week," Beresford resident Bill Mulroy said.

Mulroy plays the slots at Grand Falls and prefers the atmosphere compared to casinos in Sioux City.

"We like it. We like the games and the promotions they have here," Mulroy said.

"Most of the time, I come on Sunday," Worthington, Minnesota resident James Silver said. "There's free entertainment and I enjoy listening to the 50s music."

Silver comes to Grand Falls twice a month, whenever he has business to take care of in nearby Sioux Falls.

"I'm not a big gambler," Silver said. "I play the penny machines, ten to 20 cents just to kill some time. I'd actually say, over the last year, I'm probably $100 ahead."

"It's sometimes too convenient, but it's fun, I like it," Sioux Falls resident Julie Jepp said.

Jepp didn't gamble regularly until Grand Falls opened last June, but now she plays the slots most Fridays. The diverse customer base has worked in Grand Falls' favor, even attracting those from places that aren't exactly close.

"It's amazing to see all the different states represented," Haselhoff said. "We have folks that come here for that getaway, be it from North Dakota or even Canada. We just had a bus for a couple of days from Winnipeg here."

The international road trips could be stopping a short distance away from Grand Falls in the future. The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe has made its case, once again, for a casino in Sioux Falls. While nothing is concrete, Haselhoff says the possibility makes employees at Grand Falls work even harder.

"We always look at anything that pops up that can be a competitor for us, but the most important thing we can do here is focus on us and what we provide for our customers," Haselhoff said.

Until then, Haselhoff says the next year at Grand Falls will be focused on becoming even grander. The resort plans to offer more promotions, and work will begin on an 18 hole golf course set to open in 2014.

"We're happy with where things are at and I think, as we continue to grow, so will the market," Haselhoff said.

"They bragged it up, what they were going to do and it lives up to the hype," Silver said.

Casino officials hope that hype continues to stack up year after year.

As part of its one year celebration, Grand Falls will have a pool party and fireworks show on Saturday, June 9. The casino is also giving away a car every week in June and every two weeks in July.

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