Tri-Cities Anticipates First Tribal Casino Proposal

The Tri-Cities region is on the brink of a significant development as the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation move forward with plans for the area’s inaugural tribal casino. With the project now entering a pivotal phase of federal approval, new insights into its scope and potential impacts are emerging.

BIA to Host Virtual Meeting on Environmental Impact of the Project

Scheduled for April 24, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is set to host a virtual public meeting to gather feedback on what should be encompassed in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed casino, reported local media outlet the Tri-City Herald. The EIS, as mandated by federal law for certain projects, aims to assess the environmental repercussions of the endeavor.

The ambitious plan outlined by the Colville Tribe encompasses the construction of a sprawling 184,200-square-foot casino, a 200-room hotel, an event center, dining establishments, and ancillary facilities. Situated on 165 acres of Colville-owned land off Highway 395 and Kartchner Street, north of the King City Truck Stop, the project aims to invigorate the area’s economic landscape.

Central to the endeavor is the β€œFee-to-Trust” process, which facilitates the development of enterprises like casinos, hotels, and restaurants on non-reservation sites under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988. The BIA is overseeing the intricate process of placing the designated land into federal trust, paving the way for the casino’s realization.

Yakama Nation Opposes Colville Tribe’s Casino Plan in Tri-Cities

While the prospect of economic revitalization is promising, the project has not been without its detractors. Among them, the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation have voiced objections, citing territorial disputes rooted in an 1855 treaty. The Yakama assert that the Colville’s plans encroach upon their ceded territory, particularly in the Tri-Cities area.

In response, the Colville Tribe contends that Pasco holds historical significance for several of its constituent tribes, such as the Palus, and asserts that any territorial concerns will be addressed through the rigorous federal review process.

The proposed casino site, flanking North Capitol Avenue near the Kartchner exit and north of the AutoZone warehouse, symbolizes the Colville Tribe’s aspirations for economic growth and community development.

Despite the absence of tribal operations in close proximity, private casinos dot the landscape of the Tri-Cities. Notable among them is the Wildhorse Casino and Resort near Pendleton, Ore., operated by the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation, and Legends Casino & Hotel in Toppenish, operated by the Yakama.

As the Tri-Cities eagerly anticipates the potential economic and cultural implications of the proposed tribal casino, stakeholders and community members alike are encouraged to participate in the forthcoming public engagement opportunities to shape the trajectory of this transformative endeavor.