GROVE – A land trust application to build a proposed $60 million Seneca-Cayuga casino on Grand Lake may be pulled and the application closed, a Bureau of Indian Affairs official said Tuesday.

The Miami based tribe spent more than $1 million to acquiring the land with goal of building a 100,000-square-foot lakefront casino. The casino would employ about 450 people and have about 1,000 gambling machines.  Plans also include a five-story hotel with 125 rooms and three restaurants, including a steakhouse and sports bar, and a convention center to be built later.

The Seneca-Cayuga Tribe made application to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for 30 areas west of Grove near Sail Boat Bridge to be held in trust for gaming purposes.  Federal law mandates that any land for a casino must be put in trust as per the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988.  

The BIA sent a letter inquiring about the status of environmental documents that was requested but not received, said Jeanette Hanna, BIA Regional Director. Hanna said the tribe was notified last week that if the BIA office hadn’t received the requested documents in 30 days, the trust application would be closed out.

The Seneca-Cayuga Tribe’s land trust application is 17 on a list of 23 applications, she said.

Katie Birdsong, Second Chief said earlier the proposed casino had been put on hold because of several issues the tribe is currently trying to resolve.

“Everything seems to be hold until the tribe works things out,” said Jack Forrest, a Grove realtor who orchestrated the real estate transaction for the tribe and has publicly supported the casino.

 “Personally I hope it goes,” Forrest said.  “It (the casino) is good for Grove and good for growth.”

OPPOSITION TO CASINO

“This is a great step in protecting our city’s government and our thriving local economy,” said Darrell Mastin, co-organizer of No Casino In Grove, a grassroots organization formed to stop the building a casino with the city’s limits.

City leaders had estimated the city would lose $5,997.32 in county property tax, he said.

The entities which would be potentially affected are the Grove Public School District, Delaware County government, Northeast Vocational Technical Center, the ambulance district, the Delaware County Heath Department and the Grove Public Library.

The city provides governmental services to the property, such as police, fire, court, animal control, emergency management, streets, storm water drainage, community development, planning and zoning, building inspection services, code enforcements, 911 services and other services..

“Our citizen’s group has interviewed several local bankers who admitted seeing a rise in repossessions and credit defaults following the approval of Class III gaming by Oklahoma voters in 2005,” Mastin said.

There are 26 casinos within a 75 mile-radius of the current Grand Lake Casino, Mastin said.  

INVESTIGATION

The National Indian Gaming Commission is investigating severance payments made by the former chief Paul Spicer, who resigned from his position with the tribe, but later rescinded the resignation. .

Spicer said he offered to meet with investigators, but the investigator declined. Telephone calls to Thomas Hayde of St. Louis, Spicer’s attorney, were not returned.

LeRoy Howard, is the official interim chief until the election fight can be resolved by the tribe, the BIA ruled earlier this month. .

In addition to severance check, Birdsong said the investigation will also include questions about where the gaming revenue is going to.

The investigation should last another two weeks and then an additional four weeks to prepare a report of the agency’s findings, she said.