The Muscogee (Creek) Nation owns and operates a gaming facility in Eufaula, Oklahoma. Photo: Creek Nation Casino Eufaula

Muscogee Nation plans new gaming development after clearing federal hurdle

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation plans to relocate one of its casinos in Oklahoma after securing approval from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

In a notice published in the Federal Register on Thursday, the BIA announced approval of the tribe's land-into-trust application for a site on Lake Eufaula. According to the notice, the tribe can use the 48 acres for a casino.

"The Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary—Indian Affairs made a final agency determination to acquire 48.58 acres, more or less, of land near the City of Eufaula, McIntosh County, Oklahoma, (Fountainhead Site) in trust for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation for gaming and other purposes on April 30, 2018," the notice reads.

Generally, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act bars casinos on land acquired after 1988. But Section 20 of the law contains an exception that allows Oklahoma tribes to open casinos on land within their former reservations.

A decision letter signed by John Tahsuda, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, confirms that the site qualifies for the exception.

"Here, the site meets the Oklahoma exception because the Nation had no reservation on October 17, 1988, and the site is located within the exterior boundaries of the Nation's former reservation in Oklahoma," Tahsuda wrote in the decision letter. "Accordingly, the Nation may conduct gaming on the site upon its acquisition in trust."

Chief James Floyd told The Tulsa World that the tribe plans to relocate its casino in Eufala to the new site. Plans call for a hotel, office space, restaurants and bars.

“We feel that the main things that we see are a lack of are lodging, restaurants and some entertainment," Floyd told the paper. “It will be something that is tasteful, one that is reminiscent of its past, but is very much future-oriented.”

The site previously housed the Fountainhead Resort at Lake Eufaula. It was once a major tourist draw and the tribe hopes to bring more people to the area.

"The proposed casino-resort would revitalize the site's original intended use as a recreation destination and would provide economic development for the Nation and its members," the BIA's decision letter states.

Read More on the Story:
Former Fountainhead resort land placed in federal trust status, clearing way for Creek Nation to build casino resort (The Tulsa World May 13, 2018)

Federal Register Notice:
Land Acquisitions; the Muscogee (Creek) Nation (May 10, 2018)

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