Minnesota’s Otter Tail County has a  new director of economic development and tourism. Nick Leonard recently fielded questions from the Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners about a proposed casino by the White Earth Nation planned for Star Lake. The tribe plans to build a Shooting Star Casino Resort on the southwest side of Star Lake near Dent.

One commissioner asked why the tribe can open such a casino and Leonard explained that the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act permits tribes to construct casinos and offer gaming on Indian lands. He went on to explain that Indian lands are not just those found within the borders of a reservation, but extend to land held in trust, such as the tribe’s real estate near Star Lake.

“The proposed development includes approximately 270 acres and 5,500 feet of frontage on Star Lake,” Leonard said.

The White Earth Nation currently operates the Shooting Star Casino & Hotel in Mahnomen, and has recently proposed another near Bagley.

He noted that construction should begin next year and the resort could open as soon as 2017. About 500 people would be employed by the casino. Additional benefits to the surrounding communities would include natural gas lines, fiber-optic communications, and enhanced electrical services being brought in by the development.

The tribe’s recent announcement about the Star Lake casino noted details such as the inclusion of  slots, tables, a bar & grill, ballroom, and a buffet. The property will also reportedly feature a gift shop, deli, hotel, and an RV Park.

The Cuningham Group, based in Minneapolis is the tribe’s chosen designer. Previous projects listed on the company’s website include Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, Red Hawk Casino, Harrah’s Gulf Coast Casino, and River Spirit Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma.