Shawnee Tribe claims casino plans beneficial

Thursday, April 17th 2008, 12:10 am
By: News 9

By Rusty Surette, NEWS 9

An Oklahoma tribe said it'll spend the next few months trying to convince the public its plans to build a hotel and casino off Interstate 35 will benefit everybody - including its competitor, Remington Park.

The general manager of Remington Park said the tribe's plans are unfair, against state laws and would force his facility out of business.

When it comes to gambling there's always winners and losers, but the Shawnee Tribe sees it differently.

"To be good for the Shawnee Tribe, it needs to be good for Oklahoma City," Greg Pitcher with the Shawnee Tribe Development said.

The tribe is betting on a $400 million destination casino and hotel along I-35 that they said will be a win-win for all players including what would be their next-door neighbor: Remington Park.

"One of our most important efforts is to work here in the community to convince the people of Oklahoma City that we'll be good neighbors," Pitcher said.

If approved, the tribe said each year the development should help bring more than 2 million people into the Adventure District, more than $354 million worth of economic activity into the metro and close to 6,000 new jobs in the area.

But Remington Park's General Manager said it's a bad hand being dealt.

"It's a very, very grim future for the future of this facility should that occur," Remington Park General Manager Scott Wells said.

Wells said the new casino would be unregulated by the state and too big to compete with.

"We've heard that and we're sorry that Remington has reacted the way they have," Pitcher said.

The tribe is working hard to convince the community that its intentions are good and has offered to sit down with Remington Park to work on a plan that will ensure a jackpot future for all.

"If they want to sit down and discuss it with us we think we can lay out a plan where we can cooperate on a lot of issues and make sure that they get the benefit of that extra traffic," Pitcher said.

Right now the application to put the desired land into trust is in the hands of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and it could be months or years before a decision is made.

Two developers announced plans to renovate a section of land near the Adventure District. Development for that project is expected to begin sometime within the next year.