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CHEYENNE RIVER SIOUX TRIBE WANTS ITS OWN CASINO OPERATION

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EAGLE BUTTE — Officials for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe believe their plans for a casino on the shore of Lake Oahe in central South Dakota will create jobs and generate essential revenue for programs on the financially strapped reservation.

The tribe is considering several casino locations, including one in Stanley County on the west side of the massive Missouri River reservoir. That location would be on tribal trust land outside of the reservation boundaries.

"It's near the lake. It's a beautiful location," Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe administrative officer Harold Condon said Wednesday.

With its proximity to the capital city of Pierre and the recreation draw of the Missouri River, the casino would be much more successful than if it were built on the isolated reservation itself, Condon said.

"I know gaming has helped out a lot of tribes, if it's strategically located where the population base is," Condon said. "I don't know that we'd ever get to the point of the Shakopee or Pequot nations. But I know our tribal council would have plenty of places to use the revenue."

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community in Minnesota and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation in Connecticut have generated hundreds of millions of dollars in tribal revenue.

Tribal casino operations in South Dakota are much less profitable, although most provide important revenues for tribal government and some of the money manages to trickle down to members.

Tribes and the state negotiate gambling compacts. Gov. Mike Rounds said he had not heard of the Cheyenne River tribe's casino proposal. In the past, governors have resisted proposals by tribes to locate casinos outside reservation boundaries.

The Cheyenne River tribe's plans are very preliminary, said Jim Stoeser, a Stanley County commissioner. The Cheyenne River tribe is the only one of nine Native American tribes in South Dakota that does not have a gambling operation.

Stanley County commissioners were told Tuesday that the casino would feature slot machines and card games and eventually would have a motel and boat dock on the Missouri River reservoir.

Global Gaming Solutions, owned by the Chickasaw Nation, would serve as general contractor of the project.

Rounds said he is willing to speak with Cheyenne River tribal officials about plans for the casino. When considering Native American gambling compacts, Rounds said he has to consider how a change would affect other kinds of gambling in South Dakota.

"I don't have a problem talking about these types of things with tribes," Rounds said. "It would be better for me if I just keep an open mind for what they're asking and listen to what they've got to say first, and then work my way through the process," he said.

Condon said he is optimistic about the tribal gambling venture.

"It's going to happen," he said. "We're working out the details. When we do complete it, I think it'll be successful."

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