Osage Nation Casino Resolution Stalls in Lake of the Ozarks, Future Remains Murky

Posted on: June 15, 2023, 09:21h. 

Last updated on: June 15, 2023, 02:39h.

The Lake Ozark Board of Aldermen did not make a decision on June 13, voting to take no action on the project. The vote was tied. It’s the second time for the matter in recent weeks.

Osage Lake Casino
An ariel view of the Lake of the Ozarks above. This week, The Lake Ozark Board of Aldermen decided not to take action on a new casino resolution, although the city says it supports the Osage nation’s plans to expand in the community. The Osage Nation’s homeland once encompassed almost all of modern-day Missouri and the Lake of the Ozarks. (Image: World Atlas)

The city says it supports the Osage Nation’s plans to re-establish and expand upon its cultural presence and ancestral ties to the area community.

The Osage Nation plan is calling for a casino along with a convention hotel, an entertainment complex center and an off-site Tribal office and Heritage Center.

Our plan to bring a world-class entertainment district to the Lake of the Ozarks is moving forward as planned, and once completed, will see the Osage Casinos make a $60 million investment in the community,” said Kimberly Pearson, CEO for Osage Casinos.

But in May’s board meeting, citizens voiced concerns about an Osage Nation casino in the city. There are currently no tribal casinos in Missouri.

The board also tabled the resolution in May.

What Next

Lake Ozark Mayor Dennis Newberry has previously stated a feeling of certainty that gambling is coming to the area. Newberry has lobbied for legislative support in Jefferson City to legalize gambling in the Lake of the Ozarks.

The aldermen board has supported joint resolutions in the Missouri House and Senate seeking voter approval for a state-licensed casino (HJR 23 and SJR 14). Lawmakers adjourned in May without voting on resolutions to make gambling legal.

A new state-licensed casino requires an amendment to the Missouri Constitution. So, regardless of local-level support, the entire state will likely decide the matter.

Meanwhile, the Osage Nation is seeking approval of its claim to sovereignty for their own tribe-owned casino from the US Interior Department. Missourians do not vote on this matter.

Osage Nation Action, Missouri Inaction

The Osage Nation operates seven casinos in Oklahoma, where the Nation is based. It’s the 25th largest tribe in the US, and its historical lands once included much of current-day Missouri.

The Nation purchased and cleared land for the multi-million dollar Lake Ozark casino project.

Missouri Gambling laws permit riverboats with poker, craps and blackjack on the Missouri or Mississippi Rivers or within 1,000 feet of their shorelines. The state operates an official lottery.

Missouri lawmakers voted against sports betting in the 2023 legislative session that ended in May.