Politicians oppose OKC casino

Friday, May 30th 2008, 5:31 pm
By: News 9

By Rusty Surette, NEWS 9

A growing number of politicians are speaking out against the Shawnee Tribe's proposal to build a casino in northeast Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, Oklahoma County Commissioner Ray Vaughn and U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin have voiced their opposition to the project.

Gov. Brad Henry has remained silent, but a spokesman said the governor plans to meet next week with members of the Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma.

Joe Lucas is president of the racing association.

"Almost all of our industry centers around Remington Park," Lucas said.

Lucas said if the Shawnee Tribe is given the green light to build a $400 million entertainment resort next to Remington Park, it'll be a serious blow to Remington and to the horse racing industry of Oklahoma.

"We believe strongly that if this thing comes into reality, then we're done," Lucas said.

Lucas is urging politicians and the public to participate in the Bureau of Indian Affair's 30-day public comment period. The bureau will consider the comments when it decides whether or not to place this non-tribal land near I-35 and Remington Park into trust for the Shawnee Tribe. 

The land is in Rep. Mary Fallin's congressional district.

"Well the problem is that the tribe is located in northeast Oklahoma and they want to move into central Oklahoma City into the unassigned land area which would set a precedent for other tribes to come and take that land into trust," Fallin said.

Tribe officials said those concerns are invalid because the Shawnee Tribe is the only landless tribe of the 38 federally-recognized tribes in the state.

Tribe officials said the casino and Remington Park can work together to boost the economy and the number of visitors to the Adventure District.