After receiving her high school diploma from White Swan High School in Washington state, Gracia Puyette “Luximiat” Wong attended business school and completed certification as a bank teller in 1978. She met her late husband at age 19, and they went on to have four children together through the 1970s and 80s. Prior to entering the gaming industry, she ran a childcare business, where she would cook food and provide movies for them to watch. Eventually introducing things like board games to mix, she found her niche in the gaming industry. In 1998, she began her career as a cashier with the Yakama Nation Legends Casino Hotel, rising to hold the positions of administrative secretary, security, shift supervisor and cage worker before she left in 2005.
Continuing to learn throughout her career, today, Ms. Wong holds considerable expertise in gaming regulations. In 2006, she joined the Yakama National Gaming Commission, where she serves as a commission secretary, vice chair and gaming commissioner. The Yakama Nation Gaming Commission was established in 1994 by the Yakama Nation General Council and operates under the guidance of five gaming commissioners. Ms. Wong was drawn to the commission as a result of her experience working in a wide range of roles at the Legends Casino Hotel. In particular, she cites her time working in the cage as a period that saw her learning a great deal about how all of their departments worked.
When she saw the work that the commission was doing, Ms. Wong decided that she wanted to support the commission’s endeavors and help it to prosper, since a number of their previous ventures had not succeeded. She considers her work with the commission to be the highlight of her career. As a commissioner, Ms. Wong is responsible for approving or disapproving all license applications; ensuring that their casinos are compliant with all the necessary regulations and rules; and managing disputes regarding patrons and vendors, among other tasks.
All actions of the Yakama Nation Gaming Commission must be approved by an affirmative majority vote as they are responsible for licensing all of the gaming employees, management, vendors and suppliers on the Yakama Indian Reservation. Other duties of the commission include approving the commission’s annual budget proposal and liaising with law enforcement and emergency response agencies when necessary. Ms. Wong is incredibly dedicated to her work and strives to always put forth her best efforts and follow through on everything she does. Attributing much of her success to this dedication, she also credits her prayer as well as her desire to help others.
As she looks toward the future, Ms. Wong is planning for her retirement, though she doesn’t intend for that retirement to spell the end of her involvement with the gaming industry. Her goal is to utilize her skills to mentor others and possibly do some consulting work, inspired as she has been by her cousin, Bernie Stevens Jr., who is a veteran of the industry and goes to various tribe-run casinos to give talks and lectures. Ms. Wong has been deeply grateful to have him as a mentor.
Outside of her professional responsibilities, Ms. Wong is incredibly active in her community. In particular, she is a regular donor to Women Against Drunk Drivers and Disabled Veterans of America. She always enjoys meeting new people and making new friends and is deeply grateful for the support her three eldest sons have given her following the deaths of her youngest son in 2009 and her husband in 2020. You can find more information about Ms. Wong on her LinkedIn and learn about the Yakama Nation Gaming Council on their website.