The Keetoowah Cherokee Casino in better days. Photo from Facebook
A federal judge heard oral arguments on Friday in a gaming dispute between the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians and the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. After 27 years in business, the Keetoowah Cherokee Casino closed last August because it is located on land that isn't in trust. The Bureau of Indian Affairs was about to approve the tribe's land-into-trust application until the Cherokee Nation filed suit. The Cherokees claim they are the only tribe that can acquire land within the former Cherokee Reservation. The BIA concluded otherwise and the issue was debated for five hours before Judge Gregory Frizzell, The Tahlequah Daily Press eported. “Both tribes gamed down the street from each other for years, and the world didn’t end, your honor,” UKB attorney general Christina Vaughn told the court, the paper reported. “The ‘end of the world’ line is a variation of the same argument,” David Keglovitz, an attorney for Cherokee Nation Entertainment, which operates the tribe's casinos, said, the paper reported. “They’re just asking for credit for all their years of illegal gaming.” Frizzell did not say when he would rule but he asked the parties for additional briefs by September 8, the paper reported.
Tribes battle over trust land application (The Tahlequah Daily Press 7/26) Related Stories:
Judge sets hearing in United Keetoowah Band gaming dispute (05/12)