The Newest Attempt at a Casino in the Missouri Ozarks Appears to be Tribal Gambling, but Hurdles Loom

Casino Watch Focus has reported on efforts to legalize a new casino at Osage Beach at the Lake of the Ozarks.  The biggest problem has been that casino gambling, or river boat gambling as it were, is constitutionally restricted to the Missouri and Mississippi rivers and there is a cap on the total number at thirteen.  So even if a casino license were to become available, neither river flows near Osage Beach.  The newest plan would seek to get around those rules by establishing a Tribal Casino.  Tribes are allowed to offer the same equivalent gambling on their reservations that are allowed in the state, but there are a few major hurdles that would have to be overcome, including the actual establishment of a tribal reservation in Missouri.  The Missouri Times explains:

The Osage Nation is planning to roll the dice on a new casino at the Lake of the Ozarks, potentially opening up a new revenue stream at the popular tourism spot — though a successful outcome is far from guaranteed.   

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), passed by Congress in 1988, outlined the process for approving a tribal casino off of a reservation.

Purchased land would be handled by the U.S. Department of the Interior, and the Osage Nation would then negotiate the responsibilities for providing law enforcement and taxation with the state government — all of which could take several years. If any party were to oppose the terms along the way, the project would be dashed.

A major hurdle for the project could be a clause in the IGRA that requires a tribe to have a reservation in the state to receive approval: Once a prominent tribe in Missouri, the nearest Osage reservation is now in Oklahoma, Leara said. 

So just what kind of support or more importantly, opposition would such a plan face?  Well, given how long it would take to even establish that the Osage Nation has the jurisdiction to build such a gambling facility, the political landscape could be vastly different.  The Missouri Times concludes:

Ultimately, Leara said he would place his bets on the project taking up to a decade to come to fruition — if it manages to get off the ground at all.

“I think when this becomes more than a press release and something a little more concrete, we’ll start to see opposition,” Leara told The Missouri Times. “We don’t know where the governor is on this — we’ll likely have a different governor before this goes anywhere anyway. There are a lot of questions and while they did get a lot of attention from their press release, I don’t think it’s anything in the near future.”

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