Farm-To-Tables: Oklahoma Casino Goes Local

You've heard about farm-to-table, but not like this. Downstream Casino Resort in Oklahoma is applying the local, sustainable approach to its casino, which can only benefit the patrons at the tables - either in the casino or the restaurant.

Downstream Casino Resort is located in Quapaw, a small town in the most northeastern part of Oklahoma, and they're blazing a trail in the gaming industry by going local. That starts with their feature restaurant, the Red Oak Steakhouse, which uses cuts of beef only from local cattle companies. In terms of interior decor in the lobby, they now use exotic flowers and plants that they grow themselves. Even the local bees are put to work as their honey is part of the ingredients used at the Nee Spa. While it's the way that many restaurants are going these days - self-sustainable, locally-sourced and environmentally friendly - you rarely hear about this from a casino.

This is just the beginning as they plan to eventually grow their own coffee, create a distillery to save on alcohol costs, and have their own chickens and hogs too. They've already developed greenhouses, which is where they get their vegetables, such as carrots, peppers, beets, and other types, and they also contain the plants that they put around the casino to spruce it up.

The idea here is to primarily help keep costs down for themselves, but it also helps to create jobs for a local economy that isn't very big. They need all the help they can get. For example, the cattle and buffalo beef comes specifically from Quapaw Cattle Company, which was started in 2014. The casino could order their meat from across the country but they've decided to partner with local brands to help the local economy thrive. Beyond that, the "going local" approach is very trendy and allows the casino to reach out to a different crowd. If someone has a perception that casinos are dingy, smoky venues where the lone restaurant is a mediocre buffet, you've become out of touch. Quapaw is showing just how up-to-date they are.

Professors have stepped up to say how good this is for the economy, but it is also good quality. The beef tastes natural and not hopped up with chemicals, which is so common across the country. As customers become more conscious of it, they seek out alternative options - even gamblers. Downstream Casino Resort seems committed to give their customers quality food and their methods are going to reach across the aisle to a different crowd. Now they'll attract foodies and those who love to support local business, which is en vogue these days.

This is now a signature selling point and it's going to pull people in from the neighboring states. Arkansas is a stone's throw away and the casino is also in reach of Missouri and Kansas.

Expect this move to provide a boost to native-owned casinos, which brought in almost $29 billion in 2014. Oklahoma was second on the list of states that contributed to this pot. Downstream Casino Resort's big bet on going local should continue to help improve those profits.