The following story was written and reported by Brandon Ecoffey, Native Sun News Managing Editor. All content © Native Sun News.
The Prairie Wind
Casino, owned by the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Photo from Prairie Wind
Renewing gaming compact vital for OST
By Brandon Ecoffey
Native Sun News Managing Editor
PINE RIDGE — The Oglala Sioux Tribe is currently in negotiations with the state of South Dakota on its current gaming compact and may move to expand its gaming operations according to tribal officials.
The tribe operates 2 separate gaming facilities on the reservation. The Prairie Winds casino located on the western side of the reservation houses a majority of the tribe’s slot machines and includes a hotel and convention center. In April of 2012, the Oglala Sioux Tribe, opened a smaller casino in Martin, S.D., a small community in Bennett County.
Calls by tribal members and officials alike to add machines and games to the tribe’s casinos have not yielded significant growth in one of the tribes only profitable and job producing industries however, officials are confident that this round of negotiations will end positively for the tribe.
“The state looks out for Deadwood like it is its own child. It has a vested interest in gaming. Video gaming is class II machines and the state makes billions in profit off of it,” said Craig Dillon, an Oglala Sioux Tribal councilman.
The tribal gaming industry across the U.S. has experienced marginal growth in recent years despite a struggling U.S. economy and the expansion of non-tribally owned gaming operations in certain parts of the country. In South Dakota tribal members have attested that the lack of expansion of tribal gaming in the state is a result of efforts by state lawmakers to curry favor with the video lottery and the Deadwood lobby that compete for tourism dollars with tribes across the state.
According to Dillon the larger Prairie Wind Casino has the capability to hold up to 500 machines and any expansion to East Wind Casino would require the assembly of a larger building to house the casino. The Flandreau Sioux Tribe has a compact that allows for its casino to operate 750 machines and Dillon feels the Oglala Sioux Tribe should also be operating at that number.
“If Flandreau is allowed to have 750 machines that same number should go across the state,” said Dillon.
Dillon said he was limited in what details of the negotiation he could discuss but that the tribe was aggressively negotiating for a compact that the tribe feels would fairly represent the demand and consumer base available to the tribe.
Earlier this year the South Dakota Senate voted 25-10 to pass a law that would allow for roulette in Deadwood where gambling provides a steady stream of tax revenue and jobs in western South Dakota. If signed in to law tribes would have the option to negotiate for this type of class III gaming under the National Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
The current compact that the tribe is operating under expired on June 29 only allows for 250 machines.
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