Broken Arrow casino developers look to Creek Nation for help

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Reported by: Ian Silver
Updated: 12/10/2012 10:11 am Published: 12/07/2012 9:36 pm

Most people in the Tulsa area thought it was over when a federal judge ordered casino construction to stop and the National Indian Gaming Commission ruled the casino couldn't legally be built in Broken Arrow.

But the Red Clay Casino hasn't gone away.

The developers behind the casino are now trying to convince the Muscogee (Creek) Nation to help them get the casino opened.

The reason the Kialegee Tribal Town, the tribe originally behind the gaming facility, couldn't build the casino at the corner of Olive and Florence in Broken Arrow was because the property was restricted Creek land, not Kialegee.

The developers behind the casino are now hoping they can convince the Creeks to help, since they could have an easier time with the project, legally at least.

Sources tell FOX23 News the Red Clay Group, the developers behind the casino, made a first attempt to try to convince the Muscogee (Creek) Nation to help open the gaming facility weeks ago. But those sources say the Muscogee (Creek) Nation's National Council rejected the proposal.

However, the developers spent a small fortune in building and legal fees in their first attempt to get the casino off the ground, so now they're attempting to sweeten the deal for the Creeks.

"Certainly, they want to recover those losses, and it seems like they're giving away the farm to do so," Rob Martinek, co-founder of the opposition group Broken Arrow Citizens Against Neighborhood Gaming (BACANG), said.

Sources tell FOX23 News the proposed deal includes paying all building and land leasing costs, selling the Muscogee (Creek) Nation the casino building for $1, and handing over 70 percent of the profits in exchange for the Creeks getting the casino approved and then operating it.

As part of the development group, the Kialegee Tribal Town would receive a portion of the developers' 30 percent share of the profits.

The development group is now doing all it can to swing some votes in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation's National Council in its favor.

"There's some wining and dining of those members to try to get them to be persuaded to do a deal here," Martinek said.

At the casino site itself, little has changed in the seven months since a federal judge ordered construction on the site be stopped back in May.

While opening the casino would likely be easier for the Creeks than it was for the Kialegees since the land is restricted Creek land, that doesn't mean approval for the casino is a sure thing.

"The National Indian Gaming Commission and the Bureau of Indian Affairs have both said 'no casino at this site,'" Martinek said. "They would have to opine on that, too."

Plus, Martinek says opposition to the casino hasn't waned a bit, and members of BACANG still have plenty of fight left in them.

"We would be vigilantly and aggressively opposed to the development of a casino at this site," he said.

"The public outrage that the Muscogee (Creek) Nation would face with this development would not be insignificant."

And with all of the business ventures the Creeks currently have on their plate including plans to build a hotel at the River Spirit Casino, taking ownership of the Riverwalk in Jenks, and the recent purchase of naming rights at the Tulsa fairgrounds, any bad press could be costly to the tribe.

"That's a significant hurdle I think they'd have to consider," Martinek said. "Another factor is the matter still goes on in the courts."

Indeed, the developers are continuing to pursue an appeal to the injunction that stopped construction in a Colorado court.

Beyond all of that, FOX23 News has also learned that there's a stipulation int he Muscogee (Creek) Nation's loan for the River Spirit Casino that keeps them from building another casino within 50 miles of River Spirit.

However, sources say the Creeks could possibly get around that stipulation since the tribe would not actually pay any of the construction costs under the proposed agreement with the developers. Plus, the fact that profits made from the Red Clay Casino could go toward debt payments on the River Spirit.

FOX23 News reached out to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation for comment, but was told the tribe would not be making any statement at this time.

FOX23 News also tried to talk with the casino developers, but did not hear back from them.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

mustangdriver - 12/10/2012 5:19 PM
1 Vote
I hope the Creeks say yes and build the Casino. Just so I will see more of these BACANG idiots standing out in the cold :)
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