SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe still wants to build a casino resort in the Sioux Falls area, but the proposal faces several state and federal hurdles before gamblers could pull any slot handles.
The tribe has discussed its initial plans with city officials but needs to decide on potential locations, size and scope before making a pitch to the South Dakota governor's office, said Fred Assam, a Sioux Falls lawyer representing the tribe.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard holds veto power over any casinos in the state.
"We would certainly intend to approach them when the time is right and when we have our plan a little bit more solidified," Assam said.
The tribe wants to negotiate profit-sharing agreements with the state and city, similar to the tax and fee payments by casinos in Deadwood. Assam said the city's share, which would be millions of dollars a year, could help it finance a planned $115 million events center or be used for other purposes.
Casinos in the Old West town of Deadwood in South Dakota's Black Hills generate more than $100 million in annual revenue, according to the state Commission on Gaming.
Under federal law, tribes can offer the same kinds of games offered elsewhere in the state after negotiating compacts with the state. Sioux tribes in South Dakota can run casinos because voters in 1988 approved a constitutional amendment legalizing limited gambling in Deadwood. Eight of the state's nine tribes have casinos.
The tribe envisions the resort would include a casino, hotel and conference facility. It would be built for between $60 million and $100 million.
That would be similar to what's offered across the state border near Larchwood, Iowa. The Grand Falls Casino, which celebrated its first anniversary on Saturday, includes an events center, hotel and golf course, and it draws gamblers from Sioux Falls.
"It's a nice neighbor, but it benefits Iowa, which is great for Iowa," Assam said.
When the proposal came up during the 2010 gubernatorial campaign between then Lt. Gov. Daugaard and Democratic candidate Scott Heidepriem, Daugaard said he was skeptical.
Tony Venhuizen, the governor's spokesman, said Daugaard remains skeptical but is willing to consider whatever information proponents would like to share.
A proposal to build a casino also requires a long and detailed process that includes economic analysis, citizen input and consultation with local governments, Venhuizen said. And because it's tribal casino, it would need approval by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior.
"The governor does not believe that he should state a definite opinion until he can review that material," Venhuizen said by email. "Flandreau has not begun this process yet, so it would quite some time until that information would be available."
The tribe would first need to acquire property and put that property into trust, which could take as long as a year, he added.
When tribal officials last year met with Darrin Smith, the city's director of community development, Assam said Smith told them they first needed to get the governor on board.
Smith did not respond to messages left by the Associated Press.
Assam said the tribe would be looking at locations on the outskirts of town which could be used to facilitate tourism and economic development inside a corridor
"It would not be something we'd be looking to put in anybody's backyard," Assam said.
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