Eastern Shawnee Tribe Will Shutter Bordertown Casino, Fold Some Operations Into Other Oklahoma Properties

Posted on: September 27, 2019, 11:57h. 

Last updated on: September 27, 2019, 01:39h.

The Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma is closing the Bordertown Casino in Wyandotte, Okla. and the future appears murky for the property.

The Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma is closing the Bordertown Casino. (Image: KOAM News)

News of the closure represents the latest and perhaps final chapter in what has been a volatile history for Bordertown. Located near the Oklahoma/Missouri border in the Northeastern part of the state, the venue initially opened as a bingo hall in 1984, before adding slot machines to gain casino classification in 2005. The venue was closed in 2013, as the Eastern Shawnee Tribe opted to focus on its other gaming properties. But the tribe reopened Bordertown in 2015.

In addition to bingo and gaming machines, Bordertown has nearly 120 hotel rooms and an entertainment arena that hosts country music concerts and rodeo competitions.

The tribe has reassessed Bordertown’s place in its broader business plans, and it has been decided to bring this chapter to a close, and at this time, there has been no future plans released for the facility,” according to a statement from Eastern Shawnee officials.

Bordertown will continue hosting entertainment and bull riding through the end of November. Bingo operations will remain there until Dec. 15.

Competitive Market

Oklahoma has a vast tribal gaming market, including 10 venues operated by Cherokee Nation Entertainment (CNE). There are 130 tribal casinos across Oklahoma. WinStar World, operated by the Chickasaw nation in Thackerville, is the world’s largest casino with 600,000 square feet of gaming space.

Tribal casinos have taken off in the Sooner State due in part to a dearth of legal, land-based gaming properties in neighboring Texas. Data confirm gamblers from the Lone Star State are among the primary revenue contributors to Oklahoma casinos.

When Bordertown officially closes, Eastern Shawnee will still have two gaming venues in Oklahoma – the Indigo Sky Casino and the Outpost – both located in Wyandotte. Outpost has nearly 300 gaming machines, while Indigo Sky has more than 1,200 slot machines, blackjack, and poker.

“Current employees of Bordertown Casino and Arena will be joining our other teams from Indigo Sky Casino or Outpost Casino,” according to the Eastern Shawnee Tribe.

Political Issues

Earlier this year, Governor Kevin Stitt (R) revealed an effort to push Sooner State tribal casino operators to pay more taxes, a plan that was universally opposed by the tribes. Tribal gaming accords with the state expire on Jan. 1, 2020. Stitt believes the deals are outdated and don’t provide enough revenue to the state.

Tribal leaders in Oklahoma argue that the gaming taxes they pay are comparable to those paid by tribes with casinos in other states.

The state uses a sliding scale, where the first $10 million in gross gaming revenue (GGR) for a gaming revenue is taxed at four percent, the next $10 million is levied at five percent, and everything thereafter is taxed at a rate of six percent.