A battle over illegal gaming in Broken Arrow as Kialegee admit gaming is possible in new restaurant

Posted at 9:42 PM, Jul 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-19 07:45:44-04

BROKEN ARROW, Okla. - A battle over illegal gaming is heating up as Broken Arrow's city council drafts a resolution Tuesday to object one tribe's plan to potentially have gaming within city limits. 

Construction off of the Creek Turnpike isn't a sight most would think much about, but a project south of the turnpike and west of Olive Street has caused quite the stir. 

"People are not happy about this," said one resident giving a public statement at the meeting. 

2 Works for You was chased off the land when we went looking for answers, but eventually received a statement from the Kialegee Tribe who's running the project. 

It says it's building a restaurant and bar with "the possibility of a gaming facility."

The city believes it's called Ember's Grill and the gaming machines are going in sooner rather than later. 

“We want to make sure that there is no illegal gaming that occurs in that facility," said Broken Arrow City Manager Michael Spurgeon. 

Legally, gaming such as slot machines is only allowed on tribal land with permits in Oklahoma. 

And while the land is within city limits, it's the Muscogee Creek Nation's territory. 

So issuing the permits is up to them, and a representative told me they wouldn't. 

Tuesday, Broken Arrow's City Attorney Beth Anne Childs presented a resolution in opposition. 

"I've spent a lot of time on the phone today trying to communicate with somebody from the Creek Nation," she said. 

The resolution proposing a variety of actions including asking the state attorney general to investigate. 

“We need to make sure we protect our interests if in fact there is something going on there that is not legal," the city manager said. 

However, the Kialegee's statement said the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act provides them the opportunity to do it, and it's working with the National Indian Gaming Commission to assure it understands their legal position.

"I hope you guys do push forward on this resolution," the citizen continued during his public statement. 

“If there is any sort of illegal gaming that happens the city we will seek some sort of action through the courts to stop it," the city manager said. 

The Kialegee stressed in its statement that nothing is final, but it has hired gaming attorneys, and is set to open the restaurant in August. 

Meanwhile, the city council plans to have its final resolution prepared for a vote by its next meeting on August 1.

Here's the full statement from the Muscogee Creek Nation Principal Chief James Floyd:

The Nation is aware of the discussion at tonight’s Broken Arrow City Council Meeting regarding the Embers Grille (formerly known as Red Creek Dancehall and Restaurant) and potential gaming at that facility. While the Nation was not able to meet with Broken Arrow City officials before tonight’s meeting, the Nation plans to do so in the near future. The Nation remains opposed to any illegal gaming activity within its jurisdiction and remains committed to taking all actions necessary to ensure that illegal gaming does not occur and that all applicable laws and regulations are followed in order to ensure that any development at the site is not only legal, but safe and beneficial to the citizens of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and the local community.   

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