Comanche Nation starts legal challenge over tribal casino

By Robert Simmons
The Comanche tribal nation of Oklahoma has begun legal proceedings against the US Department of the Interior (DOI), following its decision to allow the Chickasaw Nation to build a new casino on the Texas border.

Under the lawsuit, which was filed in the US Western District Court of Oklahoma last week, the tribe are contesting the right of the Chickasaw Nation to build a casino on a site which had once been part of reservation land, after being allowed to do so under a special provision of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

The act prevents tribes from building casinos on land which was placed into trust after 17 October 1988. Comanche officials contend that the Chickasaw nation have been treated preferentially by federal authorities in allowing them to build their new casino using this special provision.

Richard Grellner, an attorney for the Comanche Nation told local news site NewsOk: “The Comanche feel like they've played by the rules and their competition didn't.”

The lawsuit also alleges that the DOI failed to conduct an obligatory formal study of the effects that the new Chickasaw Nation’s casino will have on the surrounding environment.

In May, the Chickasaw Nation commenced construction of a $10m casino in the town of Terral, close to the Texas border, hoping to attract gamblers from the neighbouring state, where Class III gaming is currently prohibited.

In a statement following the filing of the lawsuit, Stephen Greetham, Senior Counsel for the Chickasaw Nation added: "Based on our review, the complaint does not raise any factual or legal point of merit".

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