TULSA, Okla. – Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear revealed three possible sites he and his team have been researching for possible gaming locations in Missouri.
In a presentation made to the Gaming Enterprise Board on Dec. 21 at the Osage Casino’s Central offices, Standing Bear said the Nation has been given a “legitimate offer” on a 40-acre piece of property near Kimberling City. Kimberling City is located on a peninsula on Table Rock Lake, a popular tourist and recreation destination.
Other places include Cuba, where he and John Williams, his senior advisor, have been making strides with local officials as a 30-foot statue is being completed of Osage warriors – paid for by the city of Cuba. He also said the board should look at land up and down Interstate 44 because it is heavily trafficked, the casinos would not be seasonal, and the highway leads to Springfield, Cuba and St. Louis.
“How long do you want to wait?” he asked the board. “I’m not going to wait; I’m going to move forward.”
He said the Chief and Congress cannot operate gaming, they cannot survey the lands, they cannot create jobs or assess the value of the project from an elder’s perspective. They need the gaming board, ON Historic Preservation Office, Tallgrass Economic Development LLC and the Tribal Elders Advisory Committee.
He said the committee he has formed to look at the opportunities in Missouri will be meeting in January, but a date has not been set.
Mark Simms, chair of the GEB, asked if there are chosen sites yet. Standing Bear said no, it’s all proposed at this juncture. Simms said he wasn’t in favor of Kimberling City because the population was too dense. Standing Bear said Kimberling City wasn’t the only property along Table Rock Lake to consider, the Nation has had other offers.
There are exceptions within the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 that allow for a tribe to buy land in their historical reservation boundaries and put it into trust for gaming purposes. The entire state of Missouri has been identified as the historical reservation of the Osage. The governor of the state and local officials also must approve any agreement for gaming.
Standing Bear said his office recently donated $50,000 to newly-elected Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens for his inauguration on Jan. 9. He said he is forming good relations with the governor and hopes to continue in the coming months.
He said a key player to the operation will be Dr. Andrea Hunter of the Osage Nation’s Historic Preservation Office, she has laid the ground work to claim Missouri as historic reservation land of the Osage.
“I’m asking you to consider this as your territory,” Standing Bear said to the board. He said he cannot operate gaming and he is turning everything over to the entities who can lawfully begin the process of making the gaming sites a reality.
He said the Nation could go slowly, starting with a smaller facility on I-44 with approximately 300-400 machines, or it could go big with a $400 million to $500 million facility on Table Rock Lake.
“I know you’re frustrated from a standpoint of having worked on this for a long time,” said Mark Revard, GEB member. “I believe we should be looking at Missouri ... the history of it and everything you’ve shown us today has been very helpful.”
Standing Bear said at the end of the day it will be the decision of the Osage Congress and the Chief. He asked the board to keep in mind that Missouri allows more table games than Oklahoma and they also have Riverboats. There will also be no competition from other tribes in the area. Currently, the Nation competes with the Cherokee Nation and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation in the Tulsa market.