Gaming machines at the Shooting Star Casino, owned and operated by the White Earth Nation in Mahnomen, Minnesota. Photo: Shooting Star Casino

White Earth Nation rescinds authorization for third gaming facility

After spending three years on the project, the White Earth Nation has withdrawn plans for a third gaming facility in Minnesota.

The reservation business committee held a special meeting on Friday and rescinded the 2015 resolution that had authorized the development of a casino at Star Lake. The vote was 4 to 0, according to a press release.

The decision marks an abrupt turnaround for the tribe, whose prior administration remained committed to the project despite local opposition and lengthy delays in the environmental review. But the election of a new slate of leaders led to major changes on the reservation, Minnesota columnist Mike McFeely reported.

The tribe already operates two Shooting Star casinos on its reservation. The facility at Star Lake would have been located on trust land away from the reservation.

An aerial view of the White Earth Nation gaming site in Star Lake, Minnesota. The trust parcel is outlined in red. The entire project site is outlined in yellow. Source: Otter Tail County Draft Star Lake Casino Environmental Assessment Worksheet

The 14.5-acre property has been in trust for decades. It's located in traditional Ojibwe wild rice grounds.

The tribe, however, had purchased 225 acres surrounding the property and needed approval from Otter Tail County for a parking lot, hotel, recreational vehicle park, convention center and other amenities. It's not immediately clear what will be happening to that land.

"My question now is what is going to happen to the adjoining land that was purchased for 3.7 million?" one citizen wrote in Facebook in response to the announcement. "Never going to recoup that money."

Read More on the Story
Star Lake Casino on hold as White Earth Nation reviews finances (The Duluth News Tribune July 24, 2018)
Column by Mike McFeely: Tribal election another blow for Star Lake casino (The Bemidji Pioneer June 25, 2018)
Column by Mike McFeely: All quiet on the Star Lake casino front (The Fargo Forum June 1, 2018)

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