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Downstream Casino To Expand Into Cherokee County, KS - KOAM TV 7

Downstream Casino To Expand Into Cherokee County, KS

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CHEROKEE COUNTY, KANSAS -

In a landmark opinion, the U.S. federal government has given the Quapaw Tribe permission to expand its Downstream Casino Resort into Southeast Kansas.

"This federal opinion means that we can now go for it, and we will be the first to build and operate a casino in Southeast Kansas," said Quapaw Chairman John Berrey.

The National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) has issued an opinion confirming that the Quapaw Tribe's land in Cherokee County, Kansas, qualifies for gaming pursuant to the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988. The Quapaw Tribe is one of the few Indian tribes in the nation whose historic reservations were within the boundaries of more than one state. The Tribe's land in Kansas is within an area of its original 1833 reservation known as the "Quapaw Strip."

Indian gaming generally is not permitted on off-reservation trust lands acquired after the enactment of the 1988 Indian Gaming law. However, the NIGC determined that, due to its unique history, the Quapaw Tribe's Kansas trust land falls within a statutory exception in IGRA for lands acquired within a tribe's “last recognized reservation” in another state. This determination is the first of its kind by the NIGC, and underscores the unique jurisdictional history of the Quapaw Tribe.

Chairman Berrey said that Downstream had previously announced it would like to expand onto its Cherokee County property — a section that is currently part of its main parking lot — in order to improve the experience for Downstream's customers and to provide more jobs and economic heft that will benefit the communities of Southeast Kansas.

"We are extremely pleased by the NIGC ruling," Berrey said. "We will seek a state compact on the same terms as other federally recognized tribes with gameable land in Kansas, but we're commencing work immediately and we plan to be open for business in 2015."

Estimated cost of the casino expansion into Kansas is $15 million, and it will provide about 25 new full time positions. The 40,000 square-foot expansion will connect to the existing Downstream building — crossing the state line between Kansas and Oklahoma — and will include 162 electronic gaming machines with room to expand its gaming. The expansion will also include a cigar lounge and a night club on the upper level.

Meanwhile Downstream will complete several other significant property expansions that, combined, will push the total development investment to about $400 million.

Downstream opened in July 2008, with an initial development investment of $301 million. According to one economic impact study, by 2012, Downstream had boosted the Tri-State Region's local economy by more than $1 billion, and the resort contributes an additional $250 million to the local economy, including Cherokee County and southeast Kansas, annually. Downstream employs 1,100 people who come from all over the tri-state region.

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