United Keetoowah Band Shares Enid Casino Plans with Garfield County

Casino News

Recently, representatives of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians and Garfield County commissioners discussed plans to develop a casino in the region. Additionally, the tribe has submitted a new casino proposal to the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to obtain the necessary approval.

Location of the proposed casino project:

The new casino would sit on 30 acres of land located west of the city at the exact location where Oklahoma 132 and U.S. 412 intersect. In addition, the site is on the west side of Oklahoma 132, approximately 3-quarters of a mile north of U.S. 412.

In 2019, the city of Enid rejected the tribe’s casino proposal, so the main goal now is to construct a casino off the city limits. But, in June 2020, the tribe signed a Class III gaming compact with Kevin Stitt, the governor of Oklahoma, which allows the tribe to manage Las Vegas-style live table games and slot machines but without sports wagering, according to the 500 Nations Indian Casinos.

Jeff Wacoche, assistant chief, commented that the tribe wants to sign a partnership agreement that could benefit all parties involved, and added that there is the possibility of entering into alliances with domestic police and fire divisions. However, he added that the casino’s income could benefit Garfield County.

Estimated expenses to complete the casino are approximately $50m but are not definitive based on the overall size and amenities of the casino and the number of gaming machines.

As for the layout of the casino, it may be equipped with approximately 500 machines, and according to a market study finalized in 2014, it is estimated that during the first year after it officially opens its doors to the public, it could earn $38m in gross income.

The casino could produce hundreds of jobs, in addition to major construction endeavors while the casino is being constructed.

Relatedly, the proposed location has access to electricity and water. In addition, there is also the possibility of building a wastewater treatment plant on the location, according to Enid News & Eagle.

Full-service casino:

The suggested location would represent a full-service casino, which means it would provide other things in addition to slot machines, like a hotel and other different amenities. On a related note, the location also contains an extra 110 acres that have the potential to be developed in the future.

Commenting on the casino, Chief Joe Bunch commented it has the potential to become one of the top casinos in the state of Oklahoma if the said 110 acres are developed in the future. Additionally, he added that the tribe currently owns no casino. The main reason for this is that is hard for the tribe to give land in trust.

Since the land has already been chosen for the proposed casino project, the tribe won’t buy the land because it would be placed in trust and the Department of the Interior will own half and the other half will be owned by the tribe. Then that land officially becomes a tribal land.

Garfield Development has handled the financing of the Keetoowah Enid Casino project, meaning that the funding will be provided by the firm responsible for manufacturing the machines that will be utilized in the casino. Said firm will proceed to finance the construction through the 1st service contract, whereby the firm’s machines will be utilized in the casino.

As for the security of the casino, that will be the responsibility of the tribe, Bunch said in response to a question from Cory Rink, the sheriff of Garfield County. It is assumed that the tribe may be responsible for casino security as mentioned above, but there’s also the possibility that the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office and local police could be responsible for that specific task. Additionally, the tribe offered financing to make firefighters and emergency services available for the casino in addition to law enforcement.

Approvals required:

However, it may be a year before the official groundbreaking ceremony, as few validations are required for construction to start. Among those validations, no public vote is required.

Final validation from the US Department of the Interior is needed and is currently pending. Besides this one, final validation by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs is awaited and is projected for next year.

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