SHAWNEE — City officials are considering annexing 56 acres on the western edge of Shawnee for a new casino to be built by the Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma.
The casino would be on State Highway 177 and MacArthur. The trust land was purchased from tribal members, and the National Indian Gaming Commission has already approved the tribe's proposal to build a casino there, said Che' Downs, general manger of The Kickapoo Casino.
“The project is still in the planning stages and we're working on a master plan,” Downs said. “Right now, we don't know how large it's going to be, or anything about future expansions.”
Downs said they're working to secure water, sewage disposal, fire suppression and police services for the casino. He said they've approached the city of Shawnee about providing those services.
City Manager Brian McDougal said they have had discussions with tribal officials about annexing the property. He said city policy dictates annexation would be required, if the city was to provide the services.
The city commission was scheduled in December and January to consider annexing the property, but it was tabled at both meetings to allow both sides time to develop a solid proposal, he said.
McDougal said the casino property could tie into lines about a half-mile away at a minimal cost to the tribe. He said they are working on an agreement that would allow the tribe to compensate the city for police and fire protection in the area, since the casino would not pay sales tax.
McDougal said the annexation and extension of utilities also could create potential for other retail business to open in the area, which would generate sales tax for the city.
“We want to grow as a city, and the more property we have in our city limits the more potential for sales tax revenues to increase,” McDougal said. “A new a casino can bring more people to Shawnee to spend money — and that's what we want.”
The Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma is based in McLoud and has about 2,600 members. It opened its first casino north of McLoud, 30 minutes east of Oklahoma City, in 2001.
The Kickapoo Casino and a tribal-owned convenience store operate about 700 gaming machines and employ about 270 people.
Along with the Kickapoos, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Sac & Fox Nation, Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma and Seminole Nation also operate casinos within a 25-mile radius of Shawnee.
There has been some opposition from residents about the new casino, but since it's going to be on tribal land there is nothing city officials can do to stop it from being built, McDougal said.
Downs said if Shawnee can't provide utility services, they will look at other alternatives. He said they could opt to build a sewer lagoon system, and purchase water from Rural Water District 3.
He said they hope to have the new casino completed within the next two years.
“It's going to be built no matter what, but we want to partner with the city to make this a good deal for everyone,” Downs said.