PIERRE | South Dakota could get its first tribal casino outside the established boundary of a reservation.
The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs began requesting comments this week about the proposal by the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe for a casino at Oacoma at the Missouri River along Interstate 90.
Tim LaPointe, acting regional director in the BIA’s Great Plains office in Aberdeen, sent letters requesting comments from Crow Creek Sioux Tribe chairman Brandon Sazue Sr. and South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard.
The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe already operates the Golden Buffalo Casino at Lower Brule. It was one of the first Indian casinos to open in South Dakota more than 20 years ago. It is 15 miles north of Interstate 90.
Under the new plan, the Golden Buffalo would close and the tribe’s new casino would be just off the Oacoma exit on the north side of I-90.
The Crow Creek Sioux Tribe operates its Lode Star Casino at Crow Creek along S.D. 34, which sees less traffic. The two reservations are neighbors, with Crow Creek on the north side of the Missouri River and Lower Brule on the south side.
The new Lower Brule casino would be on tribal-owned land approximately five miles outside the Lower Brule reservation’s southern boundary.
The tribe sought that the land be placed into federal trust in 1990. In 2005, a federal appeals court affirmed that decision by the Department of Interior.
Because the land is outside the reservation and was placed in trust after Oct. 17, 1988, the date when the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act became law, the governor gets the final decision.
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So far Gov. Daugaard hasn’t commented publicly about the proposal.
The tribe asserted several times in its application and related documents during the 1990s that it would use the site for historic tourism purposes and didn’t plan a gambling casino there.
The tribe also stated, however, that it would follow federal Indian gaming laws if it did pursue a casino.
The federal records include a letter from then-Gov. Bill Janklow. He wrote that he was assured the site wouldn’t be used for a casino. Based on that assurance, Janklow supported placing the land in federal trust.
The proposed location for the casino is just west of the Interstate 90 bridge that crosses the Missouri River. Chamberlain is on the opposite side of the river there.
Lower Brule’s plan for the 91 acres calls for a first phase costing $34 million. Tribal leaders for the Shakopee Mdewakanton in Minnesota have agreed to loan the money.
The first phase calls for a gambling center that would house 250 Class III slot machine-type devices, 250 Class II electronic-bingo devices, eight blackjack tables, four poker tables, the main floor of a hotel, a restaurant and lounge, a gift shop, an entertainment center and a travel plaza.
The second phase costing $19 million, to be paid from casino revenues, would cover 75 hotel rooms, a water park, a 27,000 square-feet event center and a recreation-vehicle park.