Spokane Tribe Casino Continues Construction Despite Lawsuit

Posted on: June 1, 2017, 02:00h. 

Last updated on: June 1, 2017, 10:14h.

Despite two pending lawsuits, construction on a $400 million casino and retail project by the Spokane Tribe will move forward, according to tribal officials. The facility, announced in 2006, could take up to 10 years to complete, regardless of the legal action.

Spokane Tribe Casino
Spokane Tribe Chairwoman, Carol Evans said construction on the $400 million casino project will continue despite two pending lawsuits. (Image: Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Tuesday, the three county commissioners voted unanimously to sue the US Interior Department in an attempt to block the development located in Airway Heights, a suburb nine miles from the second largest city in Washington State.

The other lawsuit is from the Kalispel Tribe, which own and operate the Northern Quest Casino approximately two miles from the proposed site.

They stated in their filing with the federal court that Spokane Tribe Casino “will have a devastating impact on Northern Quest, which funds nearly all of the Kalispel Tribe’s government operations.”

Group Touts Facility’s Benefits

The rival tribe is adamant that its plans will continue and they believe they have gone through the necessary processes to build. Spokane Tribe Chairwoman Carol Evans told the Associated Press she was “saddened by the lawsuit” but said construction will not be halted.

The organization held a job fair, Wednesday, to begin hiring the expected 5,000 employees. In addition to the casino, the 145-acre project will feature a 300-room hotel, restaurants, convention facilities, bars, tribal cultural center, police and fire stations, spa and retail space.

When it was initially publicized more than 10 years ago, it was part of a program called Spokane Tribe Economic Project (STEP) and promised it would not adversely affect the community.

Long Approval Process

While city leaders endorsed it, the Kalispels were vehemently opposed and got support from nearby officials at Fairchild Air Force Base, as well as county commissioners and Congresswomen Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

Despites their lobbying efforts, the Bureau of Indian Affairs within the Department of the Interior approved it in 2013 and last year, Governor Jay Inslee also okayed it.

If the venture is completed it would be the second non-reservation casino in Washington and the fifth one in the country. They were granted access to build off reservation by a two-part permission under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.