Tribal history in a promenade at the Comanche Red River Hotel and Casino in Devol, Oklahoma. Photo: Comanche Red River Casino

Comanche Nation citizens warned of big hit from rival Chickasaw Nation casino

The Comanche Nation is anticipating a big hit in revenues if the Chickasaw Nation opens another casino in Oklahoma.

Tribal citizens attending their general council meeting on Saturday were told that revenues from the Comanche Red River Hotel and Casino will fall 25 percent, The Lawton Constitution reported. That's in line with figures presented in an ongoing lawsuit that challenges the land-into-trust application for the rival project.

And if the casino takes a hit, tribal citizens will feel it too. Per capita payments -- which are based on gaming revenues -- are likely to decline, as are funds for key programs and services.

Revenues from Red River "account for "nearly 60% of the nation's annual budget for tribal operations and programs," the Comanche Nation said in a recent court brief.

Construction appeared to be moving quickly on a new Chickasaw Nation gaming facility during a visit to the site in Terral, Oklahoma, in November 2017. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

But concerns about revenues haven't been enough to stop the Chickasaws. Last November, a federal judge refused to issue a preliminary injunction sought by the Comanches in a lawsuit against Secretary Ryan Zinke, the leader of the Department of the Interior

The Comanches are now taking the case to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Briefing is almost complete -- the tribe's final reply is due on Monday -- so oral arguments could be scheduled shortly.

Whether a decision comes in time is an open question. The Chickasaws are actively hiring for positions at the casino, which is expected to open sometime this year.

"RiverStar Casino is an 18,930-square foot gaming center with table games, 630 electronic games, a bar, restaurant and gift shop," the tribe said in a press release.

Indianz.Com on Google Maps: Chickasaw Nation Gaming Facilities

RiverStar is being built in Terral, less than two miles from the border with Texas, an important gaming market. The site is less than 45 miles from Red River and less than 10 miles from land where the Comanches might one day open their open casino.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs placed the Terral site in trust on January 19, 2017, the last full day of the Obama administration. The Chickasaws broke ground on their $10 million project in May.

But the Trump administration did not officially publish notice of the land-into-trust decision until months later, in July 2017. According to a spokesperson for the BIA, the delay was needed in order for Secretary Zinke and members of his team to get up to speed.

"The Secretary had asked everything be brought up to his level for review," spokesperson Nedra Darling told Indianz.Com when asked about the delay in publishing the notices.

In addition to Red River, which is located in Devol, the Comanche Nation operates casinos in Lawton, Walters and Elgin.

The Chickasaw Nation, on the other hand, operates nearly two dozens casinos, more than any other tribe in Oklahoma and more than any other tribe in the United States.

Turtle Talk has posted documents from the case, Comanche Nation v. Zinke. The Chickasaw Nation is not participating in the case.

Read More on the Story:
Tribe makes change in way it makes nominations (The Lawton Constitution April 22, 2018)

Federal Register Notices:
Land Acquisitions; The Chickasaw Nation [Terral Site] (July 18, 2017)
Land Acquisitions; The Chickasaw Nation [Willis Site] (July 18, 2017)

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