The Prairie Island Indian Community hosted a hosted a block party at its Treasure Island Resort and Casino in Welch, Minnesota, on July 3, 2017. Photo: Treasure Island Resort and Casino

Prairie Island Indian Community refutes speculation of new casino in Minnesota

Casino rumors are once again surfacing as the Prairie Island Indian Community goes through the land-into-trust process in Minnesota.

The tribe has asked the Bureau of Indian Affairs to place 112 acres in trust. There are no plans for a casino, a spokesperson told The St. Paul Pioneer Press, despite speculation in West Lakeland Township, where the property is located.

“It’s a very long, very hard process. They would have to go back and start from zero,” spokesperson Eric Pehle told the paper, explaining why the tribe is not pursuing gaming at the site because the effort would take much more time and resources.

Generally, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act bars gaming on land acquired after 1988. Section 20 of the law contains a handful exceptions to that rule but the tribe doesn't appear to quality for any of them.

That would appear to leave just one option for a potential casino -- the lengthy and cumbersome two-part determination process. Under IGRA, a tribe must seek approval by the state governor in addition to the BIA. It has taken tribes upwards of 10 years to complete both steps of the process.

The Prairie Island Indian Community already operates the Treasure Island Resort and Casino. It's about 30 miles from the site in West Lakeland Township, whose officials have asked residents to submit any concerns so that they can be submitted to the BIA as part of the land-into-trust process.

The tribe broke ground on a $68 million expansion at Treasure Island in the summer of 2016. The project includes two new hotel towers with 300 rooms, bringing the total number of rooms to 800.

The tribe has started hiring for the new hotel positions, according to a post on Facebook.

Read More on the Story:
Will land near Woodbury spawn a casino? Residents worried, but tribe says not now (The St. Paul Pioneer Press October 17, 2017)
Prairie Island tribe wants housing near Lake Elmo, but neighbors fear casino (The Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal October 18, 2017)

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