United Keetoowah Band interested in pursuing casino in Georgia

A marker to the Trail of Tears in present-day Calhoun, Georgia. Photo: J. Stephen Conn

With options limited in Oklahoma, the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indian is looking to Georgia for a potential casino.

According to news reports, the tribe is interested in a site near Ball Ground, a small city in Cherokee County. The community draws its name from an area where the Cherokees used to play stick ball before being forced out in the 1830s.

“We can’t come back as fast as Georgia kicked us out,” tribal executive directive Anile Locust told The Cherokee Tribune & Ledger-News, acknowledging the lengthy process it takes to open a casino.

The tribe would need Indian lands, as that term is defined by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, to open a casino in Georgia. The land-into-trust process typically takes years to complete.

The tribe would also need a compact with the state in order to offer Class III games like slot machines. Lawmakers are considering bills to authorize such games but they are not legal yet.

The tribe used to operate a bingo hall, then later a full-fledged casino, at its headquarters in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. But opposition from the state and the larger Cherokee Nation, forced its closure in August 2013.

News reports said the tribe was interested in a casino in Oklahoma far from Tahlequah but leaders never confirmed plans for one.

Read More on the Story:
Native Americans talking casino in Ball Ground (The Cherokee Tribune & Ledger-News 2/21)
Indian tribe plans to build casino in Georgia (WSB 2/11)

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