Osage Nation must overcome hurdles before Lake of the Ozarks casino is reality


LAKE OF THE OZARKS, Mo.- The Osage Nation Indian Tribe said they plan to develop a new casino at the Lake of the Ozarks, but there are some hurdles that must be overcome first.

Officials with the Missouri Gaming Commission said people should know the new development isn’t a done deal. Commission Chairman, Mike Leara, said there’s a lot for Osage Nation to go through before this is a reality.

“It’s up to the federal government to give the first nod in this and then the state would have to,” Leara said. “Part of the federal government’s decision in this is how they seek opinions from the state before they give an approval. I simply do not know at this time where all of the government entities stand in this.”

In a release, the Osage Nation said they plan to, “develop a new entertainment district at the Lake of the Ozarks, including a new hotel complex that will feature a casino, restaurants, entertainment, and more. The project is expected to be completed in multiple phases with an estimated $60 million investment in the region, bringing new jobs, tourism and revenue for the Lake of the Ozarks community.”

Leara said while they support economic development in the state, the gaming commission isn’t taking a stance in support or against the possible casino at this point.

now, Leara said, Missouri has 13 casinos that have to be on either the Missouri or Mississippi River.

“There would have to be an agreement of how we all worked together,” Leara said. “What that would entail, what does that mean. They are not, obviously, under the same gaming laws as the other 13 casinos in the state.”

Federal law provides tribes and states with legal framework to develop tribal gaming.

“I think this law was passed in 1988 at the federal level,” Leara said. “That allows them to have a casino off of the reservation,” Leara said.

He said it will probably take some time before the casino could become a reality.

“It’s gonna be quite an uphill climb for them,” Leara said. “I didn’t say uphill battle, but it will be an uphill climb. There will be a lot of work in front of them. I would suspect you wouldn’t see any sort of groundbreaking, or solid approval, at least for a couple years.”

In their release, the Osage Nation quoted support from some state and local officials.

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