Quapaw Tribe open to casino on historic homeland in Arkansas

This robe from the 18th century depicts Quapaw villages in Arkansas, where the tribe lived before being forced to leave. Photo from Shonagon / Wikipedia

The Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma remains open to a casino in Arkansas but there are no firm plans for one, a spokesperson said.

The tribe acquired 160 acres within its former reservation for more than $1.3 million. A land-into-trust application is pending before the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the agency is taking public comments from local governments.

But a casino is years away. Although horse races, blackjack and video poker are legal in Arkansas, the tribe would need to negotiate a Class III gaming compact, something that hasn't happened before in the state.

Additionally, the tribe would need to be able to show that the land meets the requirements of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The law, generally, bars casinos on land placed in trust after 1988.

Artist's rendering shows the planned expansion at the Downstream Casino Resort onto ancestral territory in Kansas. Image from Quapaw Tribe

The tribe could qualify for an exception in Section 20 of IGRA because the 160 acres are within a former reservation outside of Oklahoma. But that process takes years -- a similar determination for a site in Kansas was issued late last year, eight years after the land was first purchased and two years after it was placed in trust.

The National Indian Gaming Commission is now being sued by the state of Kansas for making that determination, which could tie up the tribe's plans to expand the Downstream Casino Resort for years.

The tribe's historic reservation is near present-day Little Rock, the state capitol. The 160-acre site is near the airport and the Clinton Presidential Center.

Get the Story:
No casino plans yet, Oklahoma tribe says (The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette 3/21)
Oklahoma tribe seeks land in LR (The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette 3/21)
Quapaw Tribe Arkansas Casino Project Brought to Standstill (Casino News Daily 3/21)

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