Former Campbell County Commissioner and Gillette City Councilman Stephen F. Hughes, 66, was found dead inside his business, Landmark Inc., early Friday morning, according to information released by …
MITCHELL, S.D. — The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe wants in on the action.
It’s the only one of nine tribes in South Dakota without casino gambling — but tribal officials are betting they can change that.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard attended a Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Council meeting recently and heard from tribal officials of their desire to add casino gambling, according to Councilwoman Sharon Lee.
The tribe wants to add slot machines in an expansion at the Cheyenne River Motel in Eagle Butte in north-central South Dakota, Lee said, and build a casino on trust land by Pierre or Fort Pierre, which has been in trust for the tribe since 1934.
“We’re saying the sooner the better for us,” said Lee, the chairwoman of the tribe’s gaming task force. “I think our tribe is finally at a point where we’re ready for it.”
Larry Eliason, the executive secretary of the South Dakota Commission on Gaming, said the tribe had a gaming compact with the state “many, many years ago,” around 1990.
“They don’t currently have a compact,” Eliason said. “That compact anticipated a casino along Highway 212 along the eastern edge of the reservation by the Missouri River. That facility was never built. The compact expired.”
Lee said the tribe is researching the compact it had with the state to see if it is still valid.
Whether the tribe can follow through on its plan to build a casino in the Pierre-Fort Pierre is a question of law.
According to the National Indian Gaming Commission’s website, “Indian tribes may only game on Indian lands that are eligible for gaming under the IGRA. Such lands must . be within the limits of a tribe’s reservation, be held in trust by the United States for the benefit of the tribe or its member(s),” or “be subject to restrictions against alienation by the United States for the benefit of the tribe or its member(s). Additionally, the tribe must have jurisdiction and exercise governmental powers over the gaming site.”
The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which became law on Oct. 17, 1988, said no new trust lands acquired after that date may be sites for gambling.
Eliason said allowing the tribe to build and open a casino would be a lengthy process. “Compact negotiations are very detailed,” he said.
Gaming compacts between the state of South Dakota and Indian tribes have been in the news this year.
The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe is preparing to add up to 250 more slot machines to its Royal River Casino in Flandreau.
The new gaming compact with the Santee Sioux Tribe was announced this summer, ending a four-year dispute between the tribe and the state that sparked a 2007 lawsuit from the tribe.
The deal that was struck this summer needs final approval from the Department of Interior, Eliason said.
“I anticipate it will happen, but it has to go through the process,” he said. “No compact is effective until the secretary of Interior or his designee approves it. We’re waiting to hear back.”
The tribe can add up to 250 more machines, doubling its total, but plans to bring in about 100 and see if there is enough demand for more, according to tribal officials.
Eliason said Daugaard wanted to help the Royal River Casino remain “competitive” by adding the machines.
The new Grand Falls Casino Resort, in Lyon County, Iowa, is just across the state line and has received a great deal of media attention in its opening weeks as gamblers from across the region check out the new gaming house.
“Certainly everyone knows the casino opened outside of Sioux Falls,” Eliason said.
No other tribes have asked for formal negotiations, he said.
“We are not currently engaged in gaming compact negotiations with any tribes,” Eliason said. “The state’s willing to enter into good-faith negotiations with any tribe.”
Eliason said some officials with the other seven tribes that operate casinos in the state have asked a few questions, but none has asked to have a gaming compact re-negotiated.
“We’ve had some informal contacts,” he said. “We have had some preliminary talks with some tribes that are interested in negotiating their gaming compacts.”
Leonard Pease, general manager of the Lode Star Casino, in Fort Thompson, said he would welcome more slot machines.
“In my position, sure, we could always use more machines,” Pease said.
He said adding machines would likely increase revenue at the casino, although it might not add more workers to the 95 employees the casino now has.
Pease said adding machines or re-opening negotiations on the tribe’s gaming compact would be a matter for tribal leaders.
“I guess the only ones that could answer are the tribal council,” he said.
The Daily Republic was not able to reach Crow Creek tribal officials for comment.
The state allows slot machines, blackjack and poker games in casinos in Deadwood and on reservations. There is a $100 per bet limit.
Most of the tribes have 250 machines, Eliason said, but the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe has around 200.
Most Indian casinos have six to 10 tables per location, he said, although the Golden Buffalo Casino, in Lower Brule, doesn’t have any table games.
Eight tribes operate nine Indian casinos in South Dakota. The Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate is the only tribe with two casinos.
The South Dakota Indian casinos are:
— Fort Randall Casino, Wagner, operated by the Yankton Sioux Tribe.
— Royal River Casino, Flandreau, operated by the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe.
— Lode Star Casino, Fort Thompson, operated by the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe.
— Golden Buffalo Casino, Lower Brule, operated by the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe.
— Dakota Sioux Casino, Watertown, operated by the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate.
— Dakota Connection, Sisseton, operated by the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate.
— Rosebud Casino, Mission, operated by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.
— Prairie Wind Casino, Pine Ridge, operated by the Oglala Sioux Tribe.
— Grand River Casino, Mobridge, operated by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
The state of South Dakota doesn’t receive any revenue from the Indian casinos, Eliason said. It does charge a fee to prospective employees, with most of the money used to conduct a background check, he said.