Cherokee Nation enters deal to run commercial casino in Arkansas

Cherokee Nation Chief Bill John Baker speaks at a topping-off ceremony on June 20, 2016, for the Cherokee Casino Grove, the tribe's 10th gaming facility. Photo from Anadisgoi / Cherokee Nation

The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma is hoping to expand its gaming empire into Arkansas.

The tribe has reached an agreement with a group called Arkansas Wins in 2016 to operate a proposed commercial casino in Washington County. The project depends on voter approval of a gaming initiative.

“This commercial gaming venture is a natural evolution of our business model that will be good for the state, northwest Arkansas and the Cherokee Nation," Shawn Slaton, the CEO of Cherokee Nation Businesses, said in a press release. "We employ thousands of people, and are good community partners, and we look forward to extending that into Arkansas.”

The tribe operates nine casinos, including one in West Siloam Springs, right near the Arkansas border. A 10th facility, located in Grove, is due to open this winter.

"It’s a significant day for the Cherokee Nation and for Delaware County,” Chief Bill John Baker said at a topping-off ceremony on Monday. “A quality job is one of the key foundations to a healthy family. I am so proud we are creating opportunities for citizens to improve their lives through employment. Our business expansion around the Grove community means more Cherokees will be working and contributing to the local economy.”

Arkansas Wins in 2016 is still collecting signatures to put the proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot. Cherokee Nation Entertainment, the tribe's casino, will be helping out.

"Cherokee Nation Entertainment will also be contributing their time and financial resources to our effort," Robert Coon, a political consultant who is working for Arkansas Wins in 2016, told Max Brantley of The Arkansas Times. "As with any contribution that the committee receives, that information will be disclosed publicly in accordance with Arkansas ethics and campaign reporting requirements.”

Get the Story:
Casino Campaign Announces Deal With Cherokee Nation (AP 6/23)
Cherokee casino operations could expand into Arkansas (The Tulsa World 6/23)

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