Cherokee Nation touts new jobs as work begins on $23M casino

Cherokee Nation officials break ground at the site of Cherokee Casino Grove on March 28, 2016. Photo from Anadisgoi / Cherokee Nation

The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma broke ground on a $23 million gaming facility on Monday.

The 39,000 square-foot Cherokee Casino Grove will feature 400 electronic games, table games, a private high limit poker room, a restaurant, a full-service bar, a live music venue, a dance floor, an event space and an outdoor patio. It's due to open in the winter of 2017 and will put 175 people to work.

“As Principal Chief, nothing makes me prouder than providing quality jobs for the Cherokee people,” Chief Bill John Baker said in a press release. “Our entertainment division consistently brings to the market the best jobs and the best entertainment options. The jobs created by this venue drive our economy, and the financial success of our businesses is reinvested throughout northeast Oklahoma to provide a better quality of life for the Cherokee people.”

The casino, which has been in the works as far back as fall 2014, will be located at a 24-acre site near Highway 59 and East 250 Road just north of Grove. The tribe purchased 21.3 acres there while an Indian family owns the remaining 2.7 acres, which are held in restricted status, The Cherokee Phoenix reported in February 2015.

In the press release, though, the tribe said it owns all of the 24 acres. The casino will be the tribe's 10th gaming facility.

Artist's rendering of the Cherokee Casino Grove in Oklahoma. Image from Anadisgoi / Cherokee Nation

Normally, land acquired after 1988 can't be used for gaming under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. But Section 20 contains exceptions for land within a former reservation in Oklahoma -- the site in Grove appears to meet that definition, according to a map of the historic Cherokee Reservation.

It not clear whether the tribe's portion of the 24-acre site is in trust. After the purchase of the land in 2013, The Grand Lake News reported that it wasn't.

As of February 2015, the tribe's portion was still being taxed, The Cherokee Phoenix reported, so presumably it wasn't in trust at that time either.

Even if the site qualifies for a Section 20 exception, the tribe may not need to go that route because the casino could conceivably be placed on the restricted portion of the site.

The Grove area is home to the Grand Lake Casino and the Grand Lake Casino Lodge, both owned by the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe.

Get the Story:
Cherokee Nation officials break ground on Cherokee Casino Grove (The Miami News-Record 3/29)
Cherokee Nation Breaks Ground on New Casino near Grove (AP 3/29)
Cherokee Casino Grove groundbreaking (Four States Homepage 3/28)
Work Begins On New Casino Near Grove (KZRG 3/28)

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Cherokee Nation to start work on new addition to gaming empire (3/25)
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