TAHLEQUAH, Okla. - A legal battle that played out in courtrooms and boardrooms for years could be coming to an end tonight.
The United Keetoowah Band's Tahlequah casino is scheduled to close at midnight tonight, barring some last-minute agreement with the Cherokee Nation or State of Oklahoma.
The tribe faced legal challenges from the state and the Cherokee Nation.
According to the Oklahoma attorney general's office, no tribe can operate a casino in Oklahoma on land that has not been placed in trust.
The Cherokee Nation maintained that neither the Keetoowah tribe nor any tribe could operate a casino within its jurisdictional boundaries.
The Keetoowahs ran out of legal options earlier this week when a judge stopped a plan by the U.S. Interior Department, which would have put the land in trust. The judge's decision came as a result of a lawsuit filed against the Keetoowah tribe by the Cherokee Nation.
Under an agreement with the state of Oklahoma, the tribe must have the land placed in trust by midnight Friday or cease operations.
With a last-minute deal unlikely, casino patrons bid farewell to one of their favorite places on Friday afternoon.
Stephanie Holcomb says she visits the casino on almost a daily basis and knows the employees.
"Yeah, it's going to be sad. It's going to be sad for a lot of people," she said about its impending closure.
The Cherokee Nation says its plans to offer jobs to all casino workers (http://bit.ly/15dpNon) impacted by the casino's closure.
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