The Spokane Tribe continues to make progress on the casino in Airway Heights, Washington. Photo: STEP Spokane
Litigation | Openings & Closings

Spokane Tribe faces another challenge to off-reservation casino



Another lawsuit is brewing over a tribal casino already under construction in Washington state.

The Spokane Tribe broke ground on the $400 million casino in Airway Heights last fall. The project won federal and state approval in a process that took more than a decade.

But officials in Spokane County are going to sue the Trump administration to stop the facility, The Spokesman-Review reported. A lawsuit was approved at a public meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

The Spokane Tribe Economic Project "jeopardizes" a nearby military base and poses "health and safety risks" to the community, according to a resolution presented during the meeting.

The Kalispel Tribe already sued the Department of the Interior for approving the casino. The Kalispels operate the Northern Quest Resort and Casino at a site in Airway Heights that's less than three miles from the STEP site.

Both casinos were approved under the two-part determination provisions of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. In certain situations involving casinos on newly acquired lands, the law requires approval by both the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the state governor.

In the history of IGRA, only eight tribes have completed both steps of the process. Of those, only four are operating a casino -- two tribes in California are being held up by litigation and one tribe in Oklahoma has yet to break ground.

The Spokanes are still in construction mode, with a debut expected this August, barring a ruling in the litigation.

"The STEP casino construction reached a major milestone with the first pour of concrete forming the new casino floor," a May 16 update on Facebook reads. "Concrete crews were surrounded by other crews working on plumbing, electrical, framework and much more."

Read More on the Story:
County plans lawsuit over Spokane Tribe’s casino in Airway Heights (The Spokesman-Review 5/30)

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Trump administration faces test of off-reservation gaming policy (April 18, 2017)