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Osage Nation launches website for updates on Lake of the Ozarks gaming plans

The proposed entertainment district will include a new hotel complex featuring a casino, restaurants, entertainment and more and will be built in phases

As part of providing updates on expanding gaming into Missouri, the Osage Nation launched a website to inform the Lake of the Ozarks region of plans toward building a casino and hotel in Miller County.

On June 21, the Nation announced is now online “to keep the Lake of the Ozarks community and partners updated and informed as progress continues on the construction of a world-class entertainment district.”

The casino will be built on the grounds of the former Quality Inn Hotel located north of Osage Beach, which was razed in April. The proposed entertainment district will include a new hotel complex featuring a casino, restaurants, entertainment and more and will be built in phases, according to a news release.

“This new entertainment district will dramatically expand the Lake-area’s tourism footprint, generating new jobs and economic opportunity,” said Byron Bighorse, CEO of Osage Casinos. “While this project has generated significant support and interest, we know Lake area residents want more information, so we created this website to help keep them informed every step of the way.”

The new website provides visitors with detailed information about the Nation’s plan for its Lake of the Ozarks entertainment district including news, an FAQ page and more, all of which will be continuously updated, the release said. In addition to a casino, the Nation is proposing to add a sports bar and restaurant amenities, as well as special event meeting space in Phase 1 of the project.

For the Missouri audience, the website notes: “The entertainment center will include an estimated $60 million investment in the region bringing new jobs, tourism, and revenue for the Lake of the Ozarks community.” For history notes, the website states: “In 1988, Congress established the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). This federal law provides tribes and states with a legal framework to develop tribal gaming and is the reason the U.S. has tribal casinos. This process was established to generate the infrastructure for tribal economic development through tribal government operations, infrastructure, social services and financial programs, charitable causes and economic development with local and state governments.”

Launching the website comes four months after Bighorse issued a Feb. 17 letter to the editor published on introducing the Nation and its proposed gaming plans to the region.

“The Osage Nation, as recognized by the use of Osage in city, educational and business names, has a strong historical connection to the Lake area,” Bighorse wrote “We lived here until the federal government ‘bought’ our land and moved us to Kansas. We then were moved to Oklahoma, where our reservation ultimately constituted the largest county in the United States. We have a constitutional form of government with three branches, and like the United States and Missouri Constitution, our executive and legislative office holders are elected. We enjoy an independent judiciary. We provide educational, health care, housing, and nutritional support for our members. We fund these programs largely with revenues from our federal congressionally-authorized tribal gaming operated by our government. Federal law requires that our net gaming revenues are for tribal support, non-tribal government support and charity. We do not distribute gaming revenues to our members as a dividend or per capita payment.”

The website did not include a timeline on when the first phase would start or be completed. In his letter on gaming plans, Bighorse said: “We plan on employing 120 local community members. Our jobs should pay between $35,000 and $150,000 per year, with attractive health, retirement, bonus, and educational benefits. Our anticipated payroll of $7 million annually will cause significant spending in the Lake Area. As we move forward with our plans, we intend to work closely with local law enforcement, utility providers and other service providers on cooperative agreements to pay all of the cost of service to our facility. We look forward to providing significant support to local schools and governmental programs.”

The website FAQs page notes “historically, the Osage Nation once thrived in Missouri with a population of as many as 200,000 members of the Osage Tribe at its height.”

“Although we were in Missouri long before it was a state, we recognize we are not yet well known today to Missouri, the Lake of the Ozarks and its citizens,” Bighorse said. “As the community continues to get to know the Osage Nation and our plans, we encourage you to contact the communities in which we operate. They are strong advocates for our reputation, local contributions, support for law enforcement, and community service. We are confident that you will hear the truth and be comfortable with what we are offering the Lake of the Ozarks. In addition to supporting local governments, schools and charities, we plan to use revenue from the project to help further meet the educational and health care needs of our members. Most of all, we look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship with the Lake of the Ozarks.”


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Benny Polacca
Benny Polacca started at the Osage News in 2009 as a reporter and has covered various stories and events impacting the Osage Nation and Osage people. Polacca is part of the News team awarded the Native American Journalist Association’s Elias Boudinot Free Press Award in 2014 and other NAJA Media Awards and SPJ Oklahoma Pro Chapter awards for news coverage and photography. Polacca is an Arizona State University graduate and participated in the former American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota. He previously worked at The Forum newspaper covering the Fargo, N.D. region as the weeknight reporter.

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