Federal government clears way for tribal casino in Park City

Published: Jun. 8, 2020 at 8:11 PM CDT
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A tribal casino could soon go up in Park City.

According to a notice posted June 3, 2020, on the

, the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs approved a tract of land (10.24 acres) in trust for the Wyandotte Nation in Park City for gaming and other purposes on May 20, 2020.

The deed describes the land as being located in Coliseum Center, an addition to Park City.

The Wyandotte tribe bought the land near 77th North and I-135 in 1992.

The tribe claimed it bought the land, located on the south of 77th North between Sedgwick County Fire Station 32 and the former Wild West World property, with land claim settlement money. A law passed by Congress in 1984 gave the Wyandotte Nation $100,000 to purchase land to hold in trust. With land held in trust, the tribe could build a casino, but to this point, there have been roadblocks from the state and federal government.

In 2014, the Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs said the Oklahoma-based tribe could not use settlement money commingled with other money to purchase the land.

Leading the charge to block the casino in Park City, the State of Kansas had argued that the tribe didn't exclusively use settlement money to buy the land in Park City and that the 1984 settlement in favor of the tribe had already been fulfilled when the Wyandotte built a gaming hall in Kansas City, Kan.

The State of Kansas also argued that a casino in Sedgwick County was a violation of state law. County voters rejected a state-owned casino which eventually became the Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane.

In 2014, then Park City Administrator Jack Whitson told Eyewitness News the casino would bring in 1,500 "good-paying jobs."

Tuesday, Eyewitness News spoke with Chief Billy Friend, the leader of the Wyandotte Nation, who says construction on the planned casino could start in the next few months. This comes after years of legal battles.

"We are glad it's over and we are looking forward to being part of the community and making jobs and creating growth in Sedgwick County and Park City, Kansas," Chief Friend says.

For now, Chief Friend says they can have Class II gaming devices on the property, including electronic bingo machines.He says he plans to bring in anywhere from 800 to 1,200 gaming machines, but also plans to add slot machines and card games. For that to happen, the tribe would have to reach an agreement with the Kansas governor.

"It's a win win for the Wyandotte Nation and it's a win for Park City, Kansas," Chief Friend says.

Eyewitness News also reached out to the Kansas Attorney General's Office Tuesday. It says news of the planned casino surprised them and they are reviewing the situation.

About six years ago, the attorney general's office said the tribe couldn't legally build a casino on the Park City site .