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Attorney General's Office offers opinion on casino expansion - KOAM TV 7

Attorney General's Office offers opinion on casino expansion

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A letter from the Kansas Attorney General's Office shows disapproval of a Northeast Oklahoma casino's plans to expand into Southeast Kansas.

This letter from the AG's Office was written about Downstream Casino, owned by the Quapaw Tribe.  

The letter was written in 2013, but shows the base of the AG Office's opinion that though the Quapaw Tribe may own federal land in Southeast Kansas, state regulations still apply.

A big part of Quapaw's Downstream Casino expansion is getting permission from the State of Kansas for class three gaming, which includes roulette and craps.  Class three gaming is unconstitutional in Oklahoma, where Downstream's casino is now.

"There's people in Joplin and Springfield, northwest Arkansas, that go to Las Vegas because they have craps and roulette," says John Berrey, Chairman of the Quapaw Tribe.

In order to get class three gaming, Quapaw must be officially recognized by the State of Kansas as a tribe.  In the gaming industry, this recognition is called getting a compact from the state.

"That is a process that both the state and Department of the Interior weigh-in on," says Michael Odle with the U.S. Dept. of the Interior, National Indian Gaming Commission.

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

But there is a reason, according to the Kansas Attorney General's Office.

In a letter written to the National Gaming Commission, the AG's Office wrote that Quapaw's application to the state to put Southeast Kansas land into a trust for Quapaw was a "non-gaming" application.  According to the AG's Office, the Quapaw Tribe told the Kansas government the land would be for a parking lot and agricultural purposes.

The AG's Office also wrote Since Quapaw's government offices are in Oklahoma, and Quapaw would not be allowed to move its government offices to Kansas, the site of Quapaw's expansion does not qualify for gaming.

So the Quapaw Tribe says they will build a casino in Southeast Kansas no matter what, though the tribe is asking Kansas lawmakers to consider something more.

"There's an economic benefit for them getting a compact with me.  There's a revenue share that comes with it," says Berrey.

The State of Kansas is accepting bids for a new casino in Southeast Kansas that would not be on Indian land.  One company that wants to build a new casino across the street from Downstream, Wichita-based Castle Rock Casino, says Downstream's announcement to expand will not change their bid.

Keep in mind, Castle Rock would be allowed by the state to offer class three gaming.

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