On Friday the White Earth Nation, owner and operator of the Shooting Star Casino, Hotel and Entertainment Company, announced its plans for a casino on the shores of Star Lake in Otter Tail County between Pelican Rapids and Dent, Minnesota with construction beginning in 2016.
The casino, projected to open in 2017 will be built on Star Lake’s west side near County Highway 41 just south of the White Earth Indian Reservation, and if the plan is realized will be the third casino for the White Earth Nation Ojibwe tribe located in Minnesota.
The decision by Shooting Star Casino to open a local casino took officials in Otter Tail County by surprise, having only realized the possibility on Thursday when rumors began surfacing. The announcement has been met with opposition from some residents who worry about the potential harm increased traffic will have on Star Lake, and the area’s environment comprised mostly of family owned resorts and seasonal lake cabins.
Concerned about the effect on the lake’s ecosystem from heavier boat traffic, Star Lake Township Board member Lee Mindemann said, “Another 100 or 200 boats on this lake just amplifies or exaggerates the potential for us to get invasive species like zebra mussels,” he said. “We’re pretty much a pristine lake and don’t have any of those issues and don’t want any.” Mindemann also questioned the reasoning of the decision to put a casino in a remote spot without sufficient road infrastructure, according to a report on inforum.
In addition to giving the economy a boost and creating jobs for the tribe and local community, the Star Lake casino will help fund environmental and welfare services for the tribe, as well as health and education, according to Shooting Star and its manager Bill Marsh who said, “Our hope is that the new casino will help draw more visitors to the area and make the Star Lake and Dent region a true destination as well as improve business growth.”
White Earth spokesman Gary Padrta confirmed the tribe’s plan for the casino, but further details were not revealed. However, according to the Inforum report, the recent sale of a 218-acre tract in July and a 12-acre plot purchased this month are near 15 acres of land that the federal government is keeping in trust for the tribe. To date the company hasn’t applied for any land-use permits or involved the county in any casino planning.
Plans for the Star Lake casino include gaming tables and slot machines with a ballroom buffet and bar, gift shop, deli, hotel, and RV park.