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Kalispel Challenging Spokane Tribe Casino Project in Court


The Kalispel tribe has filed a legal complaint in Federal Court challenging the Bureau of Indian Affairs approval of the Spokane Tribe’s casino project in Airway Heights.

Under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the Spokane Tribe’s off-reservation casino requires a positive determination that demonstrates the proposed casino would not be detrimental to the surrounding community.

But the Kalispels contend their own casino operation in Airway Heights would be affected by a new casino in the community.

They say their own essential social, health, educational, and public-safety services funded by the Kalispel casino would be reduced if the Spokane casino is allowed.

Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart says the determination process was extensive, and took ten years. He believes not only was it thorough, but the Kalispel’s argument of being hurt financially by the Spokane Casino -  which is now under construction - doesn’t seem to play out, given that that Kalispels are also expanding their current operation. Stuckart says, “Well, I think there is an expansion going on right now, at their current location and I think if they’re really concerned because expansion has started on the STEP project, I think if they were really concerned it would hurt the business , I don’t think we would see an expansion right now.”

Spokane Tribal Council Chair, Carol Evans said in a statement that the Interior Department conducted a "rigorous, comprehensive ten-year review process", and that the Kalispel Tribe’s lawsuit, "boils down to an argument that the Government is somehow required to insulate Kalispel’s gaming monopoly against fair competition from us, the resident Tribe, despite our significant unmet needs.”