The Osage Nation is pulling out all the stops in its effort to open a casino in Crawford County near the city of Cuba on Interstate 44, approximately 80 miles southwest of St. Louis, Missouri.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports, after writing over $52,000 worth of checks in January this year to aid in underwriting inaugural festivities for newly elected Republican Gov. Eric Greitens; former speaker of the Missouri House, Steve Tilley, has been hired by the Osage Nation to lobby on the tribe’s behalf.
According to a filing with the Missouri Ethics Commission on August 15, the Osage Nation hired Tilley along with Shawn Rigger and Tom Robbins, both associates of Tilley’s at Strategic Capitol Consulting firm, the newspaper reports.
Missouri’s 13 existing casinos also reportedly register teams of lobbyists.
The move by the tribe comes on the heels of the Post-Dispatch reportedly being told by the Nation’s Chief, Geoffrey Standing Bear, that the tribe had written two checks for Governor Greitens inauguration as a way of establishing a good rapport with him. “We thought we would show him respect,” Chief Standing Bear reportedly said at the time.
In addition to the casino near Cuba, the tribe has also eyed property in southwest Missouri, in Kimberling City, as well in mid-Missouri, in the Lake of the Ozarks, according to the news agency. The tribe is more focused, however, on the property in Cuba, where officials are reportedly receptive to the idea.
While under certain circumstances federal law allows Native American tribes to establish casinos off-reservation in other states, the Osage Nation would still need the nod from Governor Greitens.
In November last year, the Osage Nation broke ground on its $150 million Tulsa casino expansion project. The expansion is the fourth renovation of an Osage Nation property since 2011. The tribe currently has seven gaming venues in Oklahoma, which fund more than 90 percent of the tribal government’s services, with the Tulsa casino accounting for 44 percent of the net income for the entire gaming enterprise.
So far this year, Missouri’s existing casinos have generated $211 million for schools according to the Missouri Gaming Commission.