The Vancouver Business Journal was excited to hold our first Boardroom Breakfast series event on May 11 since our last one in February of 2020 before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our guest was Kara Fox-LaRose, general manager and president of ilani. Fox-LaRose talked with VBJ Co-Publisher and Greater Vancouver Chamber President John McDonagh and answered a series of questions about her work with ilani, ilani’s involvement with the community and what the future holds for ilani.
Here are 10 things we learned about Kara Fox-LaRose and ilani:
- When Fox-LaRose was a young girl, her father – was a carpenter – would sometimes take her to work with him. Her dad’s boss would write her a check if she did things like swept the floor, etc., so she started to learn the construction trade at a young age. She started babysitting at the age of 12 and as soon as she could get a permit to work at the age of 14, she got her first “real” job at Papa Gino’s Pizzeria.
- Fox-LaRose is a member of the Mohegan Tribe through her dad and is actually the longest-standing employee with the tribe at 26 years.
- In the state of Washington, there is a revenue sharing aspect with other tribes through gaming compacts. All casinos are capped at a certain amount, and the bigger a casino grows, the more the tribe has to share with other tribes in the state.
- The Cowlitz Tribe was the first one in the state of Washington to raise betting limits.
- Fox-LaRose serves as a board member for the Evergreen Council on Problem Gambling.
- Currently, work is being done on the nearly 300-room hotel at ilani, which will include a conduit between the casino and the hotel that will serve as a cultural area for the Cowlitz Tribe. Fox-LaRose said it will be an immersive experience where guests can learn a little bit about the tribe.
- Future construction plans at ilani also include adding a daycare center.
- The tribes in Washington give back to the community through their compact funds. The Cowlitz Tribe currently has more than $30 million in that account in escrow, and they have distributed more than $18 million of that money back to the community so far.
- ilani was one of several other casinos in Washington to get the OK for sports betting this past year. Fox-LaRose said they built the region’s largest video wall at the casino and are getting ready to soon open sports betting.
- As for the future of the property at ilani, Fox-LaRose said that first and foremost they will work to continue to complement the region, and they continue to do feasibility studies in order to decide what comes next for the property.
Make sure to check our website soon to see when our next Boardroom Breakfast series event will.