Green Country casino forced to close

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Updated: 8/31/2013 1:36 am Published: 8/31/2013 1:31 am

A Tahlequah casino in business for 27 years closes its doors for good midnight Saturday.

FOX23 learned negotiations in a long legal battle between the United Keetoowah Band and the Cherokee Nation failed.

UKB owns the land the Keetoowah Cherokee Casino is on but in order to operate a casino, the land must be taken into trust by the government.

The Cherokee Nation told FOX23 they offered UKB a proposal, which would put the land in trust under the Cherokee Nation. The tribe would then lease it back to UKB and allow them to keep all the profits for little to no cost.

Cherokee Nation said the offer was declined.

UKB was forced to close the Keetoowah Cherokee Casino.

A group gathered Friday to protest to try and keep the casino open.

People who frequent the casino would like to see it stay open because of the tribal people supported by some of the profits.

"I just think the UKB members will have a lot of tragedy come on because a lot of the elderly rely on that check they get from the UKB and if it's not there, how are their bills going to get paid," said Ashley Adair, a member of the Cherokee Nation.

The concerns were the same from Vicki Cornsilk who says she's been coming to the casino for the past two decades.

"They don't have the all the assets and they don't have all the money and they don't have all the housing and the outlets that the Cherokees have," she said.

The Keetoowah Cherokee Casino declined to comment but on their Facebook page wrote,
"After a long legal battle and failed negotiations, we regret that we will be forced to close our doors at midnight tomorrow. We appreciate your loyal patronage for the past 27 years and wish you all the very best."

The Cherokee Nation uploaded Chief Bill Baker's proposal online, "I hope Chief Wickliffe and the UKB counsel will work with me to save UKB jobs. The offer I have made will allow UKB to keep their gaming profits and keep their people employed. My compromise is an immediate solution to a long and complicated struggle."

"Honestly, they've (the Keetoowahs) been here awhile. I think we should just stop fighting over the land and the money and just let them have their land," said Adair.

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