Kansas seeks injunction to stop Quapaw Tribe gaming expansion

The Downstream Casino Resort in Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri. Photo from Facebook

The state of Kansas is asking a federal judge to stop the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma from expanding its casino.

The tribe announced a $15 million expansion of the Downstream Casino Resort after receiving a favorable land determination from the National Indian Gaming Commission for a property in Kansas. The state sued the federal agency last month in hopes of overturning that ruling and amended its complaint on Tuesday to include individual tribal leaders, including Chairman John Berrey, as defendants.

Attorney General Derek Schmidt followed up with a motion for a preliminary injunction against the NIGC and the tribe yesterday. The state claims the tribe promised not to use newly acquired trust lands for gaming.

"It is clear the Quapaw intended to use the land for gaming purposes but misrepresented to the NIGC, the state, and the county their true intentions," Schmidt wrote in the motion -- Cherokee County is one of the plaintiffs in the case.

A copy of the handwritten letter from Quapaw Tribe Chairman John Berrey to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) was filed in federal court.

The tribe has not announced an opening for the expansion of the casino into Kansas. But Berrey sent a handwritten note to Gov. Sam Brownback (R) last month, inviting the state's top executive to attend a ceremony "in the coming months."

Downstream is located on land in Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri. Gaming is currently restricted to the Oklahoma portion since that was the only part that was in trust when the casino opened in 2008.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs eventually placed the 124-acre Kansas portion in trust in 2012. Since it's within the tribe's former reservation in that state, the NIGC said it qualified for gaming under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

Artist's rendering shows the planned expansion at the Downstream Casino Resort. Image from Quapaw Tribe

The tribe has said it will use the newly acquired land for a two-level structure with 162 gaming machines, a cigar lounge and a club. Brownback's support is needed for a Class III gaming compact, which the tribe currently lacks in Kansas.

Berrey is holding a press conference to discuss the state's litigation this afternoon.

Get the Story:
Injunction sought to prevent Downstream Casino expansion (The Joplin Globe 4/17)

Relevant Documents:
NIGC Indian Land Opinion (November 2014)

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