Artist's rendering of the proposed Golden Mesa Casino in Guymon, Oklahoma. Image: Shawnee Tribe Environmental Assessment

Shawnee Tribe secures final approval for off-reservation casino

The Shawnee Tribe is celebrating after winning approval for an off-reservation casino in Oklahoma.

The tribe announced plans for the Golden Mesa Casino a little over two years ago. Both the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Gov. Mary Fallin (R) have since blessed the project, which will be located in the Panhandle region of the state.

"As a landless tribe, the granting of land represents a historic event of indescribable importance to us. As we look ahead, we will extend the hand of friendship and partnership to the citizens of the Panhandle," Chief Ron Sparkman said in a statement on Tuesday.

The tribe's prospects appeared to be uncertain because the BIA finalized the environmental assessment near the end of the Obama administration. But the Trump administration gave the go-ahead for the project in early February.

The tribe pursued Golden Mesa under the two-part determination provisions of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The law gives the state governor final say over off-reservation casinos.

Only a handful of tribes have completed both steps of the process since IGRA became law in 1988. Two of them happen to be located in Oklahoma and both were approved by Governor Fallin.

“I appreciate the growing partnership our state and the tribes have developed and improved over the last several years. I believe the Shawnee Tribe has demonstrated its commitment to our country and this state,” Fallin said on Tuesday. “It is fitting that we follow the acknowledgment by Congress to offer this tribe the ability to self-determination and self-governance by allowing economic development opportunities.”

The 107-acre casino site is in Guymon, more than 400 miles from Shawnee headquarters. The BIA noted that the tribe, whose federal recognition was restored by an act of Congress in 2000, had to look far away for land due to restrictions in federal law.

The tribe has partnered with Global Gaming Solutions, a business owned by the Chickasaw Nation, to operate Golden Mesa. A groundbreaking and construction schedule have not been announced at this point.

Read More on the Story:
Oklahoma governor gives green light to Panhandle casino (AP 3/7)
Gov. Fallin approves Shawnee Tribe’s application for casino in Oklahoma Panhandle (KFOR 3/7)
Governor Approves Eastern OK Tribe's Proposal to Build Casino near Guymon (NewsOn6 3/7)

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