Cherokee Nation slated to break ground on new gaming facility

The new Cherokee Nation casino will be located near the intersection of Highway 59 and East 250 Road near Grove, Oklahoma. Image from Google Maps

The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma continues to expand its gaming enterprise.

The tribe will break ground this spring on its 10th casino , The Grand Lake News reported. Plans call for a facility with 400 gaming machines, a restaurant, a full-service bar, a live music venue and a dance floor, the paper said.

“We understand the role our businesses play in the lives of Cherokee Nation citizens and the future of the tribe,” Chief Bill John Baker said in a statement to the paper. “We are using facilities like this to create good-paying jobs for our citizens, build local economies and provide funding for services to 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 owns about 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.

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.

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A casino in Grove: Cherokee business plans spring groundbreaking (The Grand Lake News 1/28)

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