Government regulation could put hurdle in front of Downstream's - KOAM TV 7

Government regulation could put hurdle in front of Downstream's planned expansion into SE KS

A multimillion dollar expansion project follows what the Quapaw Tribe calls a landmark decision by the federal government."We're a force to be reckoned with," says Quapaw Tribe Chairman John Berrey.

The casino part of Downstream Resort is in Oklahoma, while the casino's main parking lot is in Southeast Kansas.  But now, the National Indian Gaming Association says Quapaw's land in Southeast Kansas qualifies for gaming.

"And it's a very big deal for us.  We're the first tribe that's going to have two states under one roof," says Berrey.

...One casino roof.

One key to the new casino's location:  The Quapaw Tribe owned land in Southeast Kansas before the Civil War.

Downstream Casino will built on top of their main parking lot an addition with 162 gaming machines, a cigar lounge, and a night club.  But the Quapaw Tribe especially wants class three gaming in the new casino, which includes craps and roulette.  Class three gaming is unconstitutional in Oklahoma.

"I just want to add another product for the customer that's bypassing me to go to Las Vegas because I don't offer that," says Berrey.

Cherokee County Commissioner Richard Hilderbrand is neutral on this development.

"If they build, it's just going to be another addition to where they're at," says Hilderbrand.

Cherokee County would not receive any direct revenue off the new casino addition.

But before the project is a done deal, the county commissioner is wondering if there will be another hurdle for the Quapaw Tribe.  Hilderbrand says the State of Kansas only recognizes four Indian tribes, and the Quapaw Tribe is not one of them.  The Quapaw Tribe says that does not matter.

"Unfortunately, the states don't recognize the tribes.  It's the federal government," says Berrey.

But in order for the new casino to have class three gaming, the Quapaw Tribe has to be officially recognized by Kansas.  The official recognition is otherwise known as getting a compact from Kansas.

"There's no reason not to expect that I can't get a compact," says Berrey.

Hilderbrand says, "Does that open up all the doors for any tribe to come in and say, hey, we had ten acres (in Kansas) at one time?"

The project will cost about 15 million dollars, and 25 new full-time positions will be created from this new casino.  The Quapaw Tribe's chairman says he wants work to be done on the new development by next Summer.  

The State of Kansas is accepting bids from developers for another casino in Southeast Kansas, one that will not be on Indian land.  A state lottery official tell us that process is still operating as planned.

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