MASHANTUCKET, Conn. (WTNH) — At first it was a way to survive, but gaming has now become a way the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal nation is keeping its culture alive.

Foxwoods Resort Casino first opened on Feb. 15, 1992.

“I started coming here when there was just bingo,” said Donna Desjean of Massachusetts.

It all started with the huge high-stakes bingo hall that the Mashantucket Pequots were able to open on their reservation in the mid-1980s. Then in 1992, they added table games and then slot machines.

That is when the crowds came. Cars lined up along Route 2 on their way to the state’s first casino.

“I never thought it would have gotten this big,” said Richard Short of New Hampshire.

Now, 30 years later, it has added restaurants, retail, entertainment, and more gaming. Foxwoods Resort Casino is celebrating its 30th anniversary by announcing plans to expand its facility even more.

They are building a new bingo hall which will open this spring. The old location will become a 75,000-foot Rainmaker Expo Space, Diamond Parking will be tripled and a new elevator entrance will open into the main part of the resort.

Plus, Great Wolf Lodge will be coming to Mashantucket in 2024.

“We are just getting started, and Foxwoods we cannot wait to celebrate with all of you throughout the year,” said Jason Guyot, president and CEO of Foxwoods Resort Casino.

They also announced a year of giveaways to guests, employees, and the community.

“Every month Foxwoods and the tribe is going to donate $30,000 to a local organization,” said Dale Merrill, V.P. Human Resources Administration.

The first recipient is the United Way of Southeastern Connecticut.

“We are just getting started,” said Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Chairman Rodney Butler.

WEB EXTRAS | Take a look at News 8’s coverage of Foxwoods’ grand opening from 30 years ago!