Spokane Tribe faces another hurdle in off-reservation casino bid

Artist's rendering of the Spokane Tribe's proposed off-reservation casino in Airway Heights, Washington. Image from STEP

The Spokane Tribe cleared a major hurdle in its bid for an off-reservation casino in Washington but faces another battle at the state level.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs approved plans for a casino, hotel, convention center, pool, spa, parking and retail at the 145-acre West Plains Mixed-Use Development in Airway Heights. The decision came after nearly a decade of work on the project.

The process isn't over, though. The tribe must now convince Gov. Jay Inslee (D) to sign off because he has veto authority under the two-part determination provisions of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

“I think he’ll be very deliberate, but he’ll be fair,” Chairman Rudy Peone told The Spokesman-Review of the governor's role.

The site plan for the West Plains Mixed-Use Development in Airway Heights, Washington. Image from STEP

Inslee hasn't stated his views on the project. But he's already being told to reject the casino by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Washington), several state lawmakers and the Kalispel Tribe.

Still, the Spokanes are eager to present its case. Tribal officials will hold a celebration at Spoko Fuel tomorrow afternoon to discuss the Spokane Tribe Economic Project.

Since IGRA became law in 1988, only three tribes have completed both steps of the two-part determination process. One is the Kalispel Tribe, whose Northern Quest Resort and Casino is less than three miles from the Spokane site.

Get the Story:
Spokane Tribe casino opponents take case to state (The Spokesman-Review 6/17)
Spokane Co. claims new casino could shut down Fairchild (KREM 6/17)
Spokane Tribe one STEP closer to new casino (KXLY 6/16)
Spokane Tribal Casino Just Needs Governor's Go Ahead (Spokane Public Radio 6/16)

Relevant Documents:
BIA Two-Part Determination Letter (June 15, 2015)

Federal Register Notice:
Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Spokane Tribe of Indians West Plains Casino and Mixed Use Project, City of Airway Heights, Spokane County, WA (February 1, 2013)

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Letter: Drop opposition to Spokane Tribe off-reservation casino (04/30)
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Column: Campaign against Spokane Tribe's casino shows cracks (02/26)
City no longer opposes Spokane Tribe's off-reservation casino (02/25)

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