Editorial: Oglala Sioux Tribe keeps members in the dark on gaming

Have you ever seen a profit and loss statement for your casinos on the Pine Ridge Reservation?
By Native Sun News Today Editorial Board

How well or how bad are the two casinos owned by the Oglala Sioux Tribe doing? Jeffrey Whalen, Native Sun News Correspondent asked that question last week and he asked it because he, along with this newspaper, is asked that question by members of the Tribe.

Here is a question for the leaders of every District on Pine Ridge: When is the last time you saw a financial report on the profits or losses of the casinos? These are called P&L statements and every business would be remiss if they did not prepare these P&L statements in order to analyze the success or failure of their business.

Many tribal casinos across America see no problem with supplying this information to their members because in their minds the people of the tribe are the rightful owners of the casino and not the tribal councils or president of the tribe. What’s more, the profits of their casinos are shared with their tribal members through per capita monthly payments. Have the OST casinos ever made enough money to even consider per cap payments to its members? Apparently not.

The Oglala Lakota of the Pine Ridge Reservation are the rightful owners of both tribal casinos. As owners they deserve full transparency and disclosure by the tribal government. We have written about this in the past with little results.

The first mistake made by the OST was to build the first casino at Oelrichs, too far off the beaten path. The original Lakota Times wrote an editorial in 1988 before this decision was made; to build the casino at Interior, just a few miles off of the busiest highway – I-90 – in South Dakota. There is little doubt that the revenues from a casino at Interior would have increased the profits tenfold over its construction at Oelrichs.

It was a bad business decision. The second bad decision was to build a second casino at Martin. That should have been the time to build it at Interior because the traffic on I-90 has increased considerably since 1988. Interior is the entrance to the Badlands. A million tourists visit the Bad Lands every year and thousands of truckers drive by Interior on I-90 every day and every night. This should have been a no-brainer for anyone with an ounce of business acumen.

The three things that make a business successful are still: Location, location, location. We hope there are some sound business minds on the new tribal council and it is up to tribal members to make sure they are elected this time around.

Lack of transparency cannot be blamed on the management of the OST casinos because that responsibility lies clearly in the hands of the OST Council and its president.

For more news and opinion visit the Native Sun News Today website: Have you ever seen a profit and loss statement for your casinos on the Pine Ridge Reservation?

(Contact the Editorial Board of NSNT at editor@nsweekly.com)

Copyright permission Native Sun News