Oklahoma Casino River Spirit Closed Indefinitely Due to Arkansas River Water Levels

Posted on: May 31, 2019, 01:00h. 

Last updated on: May 30, 2019, 03:07h.

The Oklahoma casino River Spirit will be closed indefinitely through June and possibly longer due to the Arkansas River’s elevated water levels.

Oklahoma casino Supreme Court
The Oklahoma casino River Spirit is closed for the immediate future. (Image: Tom Gilbert/Tulsa World)

In a statement posted to its website, River Spirt Casino Resort CEO Pat Crofts says water level estimates from the US Army Corp. of Engineers suggest that it’s in the best interest of the property to remain closed through at least the end of next month.

There are too many unknowns until the water recedes so that we may assess the property and prioritize the most immediate issues to address in order to expedite reopening,” Crofts explained. “The safety of our employees and guests is our top priority.”

“While the photos and videos may appear alarming, we want to reassure the public that River Spirit, including the 27-story hotel, Margaritaville and Ruth’s Chris restaurants, and both our gaming floors remain unaffected by the water surrounding our property,” the CEO continued. “We will have some amenities, such as the pool and spa that are on the ground level of the resort, that may be impacted longer for clean-up and repairs.

Owned and operated by the Muscogee Creek Nation, River Spirit features 3,000 slot machines and a few dozen table games. The Native American group has eight other casino venues in Oklahoma, most being smaller venues.

Oklahoma is home to dozens of tribal gaming venues, but no commercial casinos. The state also has two racinos.

River Flooding

The Arkansas River is amid historic flooding, and turned deadly this week after a 64-year-old man drowned in his van near Fort Smith, Arkansas.

The major tributary of the Mississippi River is at its highest level in recorded history. Days of punishing storms including tornados have been cited for the record levels.

More than 20 inches of rain has fallen on some parts of the nearly 1,500-mile river.

SCOTUS Rejects Indian Casino Case

In other tribal gaming news in Oklahoma, the US Supreme Court opted to forego reviewing a case appealed to it by the Comanche Nation.

The Native American group was seeking to block a casino project in the southern portion of the state proposed by the Chickasaw Nation. The plaintiff argued that the US Department of the Interior wrongfully took the land into trust for the defendants to build the gaming venue in Terral – which sits on the Oklahoma-Texas border.

The targeted Terral casino site is less than 45 miles down the Red River from Comanche’s Red River Hotel and Casino in Devol.

US District Judge Joe Heaton had earlier ruled that the Chickasaw Nation indeed has historical ties to Terral, and therefore the land was adequately acceptable to be taken into trust.

There is no dispute here that the Terral property is within the boundaries of the historical reservation of the Chickasaw tribe,” Heaton ruled.

The Comanches have only three casinos, while the Chickasaws have several dozen gaming facilities.