Openings & Closings

Spokane Tribe breaks ground on off-reservation casino project

The groundbreaking on the Spokane Tribe Economic Project on November 9, 2016. Photo courtesy Swinerton

The Spokane Tribe of Washington broke ground on a long-awaited casino development on Wednesday.

The first phase of the Spokane Tribe Economic Project consists of a $40 million casino with 450 slot machines and 12 table games, two restaurants and an outdoor activity and eating area. It's due to open in August 2017, KXLY reported.

“This is a place of the Spokane tribal people,” Chairwoman Carol Evans said at the groundbreaking, the station reported. “Our ancestors of the past, this land here is where they fought one of our wars.”

The tribe pursued the casino under the two-part determination provisions of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Both the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) approved the project.

The facility is located Airway Heights. The site is less than three miles from the Northern Quest Resort and Casino, owned by the Kalispel Tribe, whose leaders oppose the new development.

“Our studies show there is definitely room for two casinos,” Evans told The Spokesman-Review. “We believe in healthy competition.”

The Kalispel casino also was approved under the two-part determination provisions of IGRA. The procedure is used sparingly -- since 1988, only seven tribes have completed both steps.

The first three came between 1990 and 2000. But no tribes were successful between 2000 and 2009 because the Bush administration set up so many roadblocks it was virtually impossible to win approval at the federal level.

The Obama administration shifted course and the next four decisions arrived in the past few years. The Spokane project was the most recent and, most likely, the last until Republican president-elect Donald Trump comes on board.

At least three two-part determination applications are pending at the BIA: two in California and one in Michigan. If no decisions are made before January, 20, 2017, they will be left in the hands of the Trump administration.

Read More on the Story:
Spokane Tribe breaks ground on STEP (KXLY 11/9)
Spokane Tribe breaks ground on West Plains casino, plans for 2017 opening (The Spokesman-Review 11/9)

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