Shawnee Tribe announces off-reservation casino in Oklahoma

The logo for the Golden Mesa Casino. Image from Facebook

The Shawnee Tribe announced plans for an off-reservation casino in Oklahoma.

The tribe plans to build the Golden Mesa Casino in Guymon, a city in the panhandle portion of the state. The site is more than 400 miles from tribal headquarters in Miami.

"We are pleased to announce our plans today to develop a casino entertainment center just outside Guymon, Oklahoma," Chief Ron Sparkman said in a press release on Tuesday. "Today's announcement comes after two years of thorough research that confirmed the viability of building a 60,000-square-foot, high-quality center in the heart of the Oklahoma Panhandle."

The tribe gained federal recognition through an act of Congress in 2000. The law, as originally written, could have allowed the tribe to open a casino just about anywhere in Oklahoma.

But after the tribe announced plans for a casino in Oklahoma City, Congress amended the law. The tribe now has to meet the requirements of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act before opening a casino on newly acquired land.

As a restored tribe, the Shawnees could qualify for an exception in Section 20 of the law. A prior attempt to do just that was rejected by the Bureau of Indian Affairs back in 2010.

Alternatively, the tribe could pursue a casino under the two-part determination provisions of IGRA. The situation is rare in Oklahoma but not unprecedented -- the Kaw Nation became the the first tribe in the state to complete both steps of the process in 2014.

The Shawnee Tribe's press release did not mention how the land in Guymon will be brought into trust. But Chief Sparkman said construction could begin in late 2016.

Get the Story:
Casino to be built in the Okla. Panhandle near Guymon (ABC News 2/18)

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