New Oklahoma tribe casino approved by Bureau of Indian Affairs must still pass State Governor

  • Shawnee Tribe given green light by Bureau of Indian Affairs for $25 million Golden Mesa Casino in Guymon, Oklahoma
  • Approval of Oklahoma state governer still required for project to go ahead

A major hurdle that threatened to scupper the development of the $25 million Golden Mesa Casino in Guymon, Oklahoma appears to have been effectively overcome, courtesy of a Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) assessment.

New Oklahoma tribe casino: The Bureau for Indian Affairs may have said yes, but Governor Mary Fellin must still give approval
New Oklahoma tribe casino: The Bureau of Indian Affairs may have said yes, but Governor Mary Fallin must still give approval

No impact on the ‘quality of human environment’

In the BIA’s opinion, the new off-reservation casino would not constitute any significant impact on the quality of the human environment in the immediate area. This finding means that a major hurdle to the Shawnee’s plans has been cleared, because a full environmental impact statement (FUIS) will not now be required, potentially avoiding a delay of several years’ legal and political wrangling.

However, under the terms of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the approval of Oklahoma’s governor, Mary Fallin would still be required in order for the casino development to proceed. To date, the only tribe to accomplish such a feat is the Kaw Nation with their Southwind Casino in Braman.

The Shawnee face opposition to the development

The 42,309 sq ft casino floor, together with a restaurant and bar, would be situated on a 100-acre site in the Panhandle region of Oklahoma, 3.5 miles outside of Guymon, some 400 miles away from the Shawnee’s headquarters and this has caused opposition from some quarters.

Republican State Senator, Bryce Marlatt cites that allowing tribal gambling in areas where the tribe concerned has no historical ties would set a dangerous precedent, potentially encouraging a tidal wave of casinos and other tribal ventures all over Oklahoma. Local residents in Guymon have also expressed concerns about the social implications of gambling and the potential negative effect the casino could have.

The Shawnee Tribe’s previous attempts to open casinos in the Oklahoma City area were not approved.

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