United Keetoowah Band still confident of decision on casino site

The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma is confident the Obama administration will keep its disputed casino open.

The tribe agreed to close the Keetoowah Cherokee Casino today unless the Bureau of Indian Affairs approves a land-into-trust application. "It's going to happen. We're confident," Chief George Wickliffe said at a press conference on Friday, according to news reports.

But in case the BIA doesn't take action, the tribe plans to put its employees on paid leave while some renovations take place at the casino "We’re looking forward to Monday and putting this whole issue behind us," general manager Rod Fourkiller said at the press conference, The Tahlequah Daily Press reported.

The tribe has been engaged in gaming in Tahlequah for more than 20 years. The site is within the former Cherokee Reservation but the National Indian Gaming Commission said it wasn't on "Indian land" in a July 2011 decision.

The state of Oklahoma went to court to shut down the facility. As part of a settlement, the tribe agreed to pay $2 million and to close the casino unless the BIA approves the land-into-trust application.

Get the Story:
UKB has contingency plan if casino closes (The Tahlequah Daily Press 7/27)
Tahlequah casino could close on Monday (KJRH-TV 7/27)
Deadline Approaching For Embattled Tahlequah Casino (News on 6 7/27)
Keetoowah leaders 'sure' feds will allow casino to stay open (The Tulsa World 7/28)

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United Keetoowah Band prepares to shutter casino on July 30 (7/27)