The National Indian Gaming Commission recently approved the Downstream Casino of Quapaw Oklahoma to expand into Kansas, a decision that that Kansas officials are not happy with. A motion has been filed to see the decision overturned, so the Quapaw Tribe will not be able to expand their casino in Oklahoma across states lines into Kansas.
Operating the Downstream Casino, the tribe uses a portion of the land near the border as a parking lot, part of which is located across Kansas state lines. The NIGC has now approved the land in Kansas as an opportunity for the casino to expand. Located in Cherokee County, the land is a portion of the original reservation of the tribe which was first established back in 1833 and is titled the Quapaw Strip.
Derek Schmidt, the Attorney General of Kansas, has filed a lawsuit just this week in the United States District County of Topeka to challenge the decision made by the NIGC. The suit names the Cherokee Country Board of Commissioners and the state as co-plaintiffs and pleads with the court to rule that the NIGC has acted subjectively and surpassed their statutory authority to determine the tribe has the option to provide gaming within the state of Kansas.
In the lawsuit, Schmidt states that land was purchased by the tribe in Kansas back in 2006 of 124 acres. The purpose was to create a parking lot to be used by the gaming facility of Downstream. In 2011, the tribe then asked for the land to be placed into a trust for purposes unrelated to gaming with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The state of Kansas objected, however the land was accepted in 2012 by the Federal Government.
Last December, the NIGC decided the land was qualified to offer casino options and cited the history of the tribe having owned property inside two states, claiming the trust land in Kansas meets the statutory exemption. This exception is that land required in another state under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of the last recognized reservation clause.
Schmidt is claiming that the Kansas governor has the authority to agree to gaming or veto gaming to take place on lands that were acquired after October 17th 1988, based on the creation of the Indian Gaming Act.
In a news release on the matter, Schmidt stated that the tribe needs to abide by their promise that gaming would not take place on the land. Also in the press release, Schmidt states that the federal government should abide by the law and let Kansas decide how the land should be used.
Kansas recently extended the deadline for casino proposals in the SE section of the state, near the disputed land in Cherokee and Crawford counties. A license for the state-owned facility is expected to be awarded by May 17. One suitor withdrew their proposal last Friday.