Editorial: Kialegee casino dispute now in appeals court
BY World's Editorials Writers
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
1/30/13 at 7:24 AM
The Kialegee Tribal Town might someday prevail and open its Red Clay Casino in Broken Arrow. That, however, is far from a certainty. Last year, U.S. District Chief Judge Gregory Frizzell sided with Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt and granted a preliminary injunction stopping construction of the casino in Broken Arrow.
The Kialegees appealed, and now parties have filed their written arguments to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Both sides are in for a wait.
The casino was an unwelcome intruder in a famously conservative community. A petition signed by 10,000 residents, as well as angry public hearings, attested to the unpopularity of the project, which is close to schools and neighborhoods. The congressional delegation opposed the project and took steps to stop it or get clarification on its legality.
Pruitt brought suit, claiming that the case is one of first impression in Oklahoma and that the casino violates a state Indian gaming compact signed by the Kialegees, and that the tribe did not acquire necessary pre-approval to proceed with the project under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
Frizzell agreed with Pruitt that the Kialegees do not have "Indian lands" and had leased the property from two property owners, Marcella Giles and her sister, Wynema Capps. After Frizzell ruled, Kialegee officials enrolled the sisters, who are Muscogee (Creek) Nation members, in the Kialegee tribe, a subset of the Creek Nation.
Undoubtedly, there are other sites where the Kialegees might have built, but Tulsa County surely has reached a saturation point. Oklahoma has one of the highest per capita rates of casinos in the nation.
Is another - by any tribe - really needed? That subject, of course, is not what the appeals court will address when it decides this year or next if the Kialegees were just economic opportunists trying to skirt regulatory rules or if they had a legitimate right to build on the property.
Original Print Headline: Waiting game