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Moses Lake tribal casino likely not in the cards

Council members play down possibility

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Posted: Friday, March 30, 2012 9:00 am

MOSES LAKE - A tribal casino in Moses Lake is on a list of projects that could be made possible by settlement funds received by Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation.

That does not mean the option is being seriously considered, according to Colville Business Council members.

The Colvilles are looking at several options for the $193 million settlement due from the U.S. government, resulting from a 2005 lawsuit alleging mismanagement of tribal trust funds and income-generating assets.

While 20 percent of the money will go directly to tribal members, the business council is now seeking input on how the remainder might be used.

This led Colville Business Councilmember Ricky Gabriel to compile a broad list of about 80 ideas - everything from biofuels production to building a casino in Moses Lake.

A portion of the list was made available to the Columbia Basin Herald by the Grand Coulee Star, which obtained the list prior to a closed tribal member meeting last week.

Among the dozens of ideas are transportation infrastructure upgrades, college scholarships, industrial park development and construction of a casino in Wenatchee or Leavenworth.

Gabriel referred to the list as a "community participation sheet" and said it is solely intended to generate options and get member input to aid in council discussion. He clarified the ideas are not in any particular order and the list is still being revised.

"A lot of these ideas are old - they pre-date me by many years," Gabriel said; adding the Moses Lake casino is "not even really being tossed around or anything, it's just an old idea that was there forever."

"Ricky did this on his own. He did not have the backing of the business council," said Michael Finley, the Colville's Business Council Chair. "We as a body agreed we were going to hear out the members first and at some point would begin the real planning on what we were going to do."

He said the list was never intended for public release, and inclusion of the Moses Lake casino idea has caused a lot of unnecessary confusion.

"It's really misleading and it's unfortunate that it ended up in there," he said. "The piece of land isn't even big enough for a casino even if we wanted to put one there. It would require a whole different trust process even if we did want to do gaming on it."

Finley was referring to a truck stop the Colvilles are planning to build on six acres of undeveloped Moses Lake property located just south of Interstate 90 on Wanapum Drive. The Colvilles last year applied with the U.S. government to have the land held in trust, meaning it would no longer be subject to state or local taxation or regulation. In order to bring the land into trust for use in gaming, the Colvilles would have to begin an entirely separate federal process.

Greg Argil is with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the agency charged with processing trust lands applications such as the Colville Tribes' truck stop request. He says approving an off-reservation casino is far more lengthy and complicated than people might realize.

"A tribe must prove the anticipated economic benefit of (an off-reservation casino)," Argil said. "The farther away from the tribe it is, the heavier the weight of comments by local governments. Moses Lake is about 38 miles from the furthest reaches of the Colville Tribes' boundaries."

The federal government has approved just five off-reservation casinos in the past 20 years, the Kalispel Tribe's Northern Quest Casino in Airway Heights being one of them. The Spokane Tribe has, for years, been moving through the process of getting approval for its own off-reservation casino resort, dealing with dozens of regulatory hurdles and fierce opposition along the way.

But this isn't the first time the possibility of a Colville Tribal casino in Moses Lake has been raised. About five years ago the tribe briefly considered building a casino, golf course, hotel and possible campground at Moses Pointe.

"It died on the vine," said Ron Covey, who was mayor of Moses Lake at the time. "The tribe came to the city to see, if they were to purchase Moses Pointe, if the city would support them in their effort to get the land put into trust for a casino, convention center, marina, et cetera."

The Moses Lake City Council discussed the matter and held a couple meetings with Colville officials, but the plan was discarded after a new tribal council was elected, Covey said.

Recent rumors that the Colville Tribes plan to build a casino near Soap Lake are also unfounded, according to Finley. Last month he said the Colvilles did purchase several acres of lakefront property on Soap Lake, but have no immediate plans for its use.

"Soap Lake is a traditional cultural property for us, it has cultural significance for us with the healing waters," he said. "It made sense for us to have a piece of that for our members to use whenever they need to, going into the future. Right now we don't have any plans for it other than the fact that we wanted it to be available for our members to use when they want it."

The Colville Tribes currently operate casinos near the Grand Coulee Dam, on Lake Chelan and in Okanogan.

  • Discuss

Welcome to the discussion.


  • Bustyn posted at 4:43 pm on Tue, Apr 3, 2012.

    Bustyn Posts: 302

    McLeod wrote "If current zoning allowed it, that is a risk that the one complaining willingly took.".

    That is precisely the issue. By having this land placed in trust, the Colville's are attempting to avoid zoning laws, environmental laws, etc. We're not talking about denying land zoned for a certain use being used for that use. We're not talking about denying use because of the group. We are talking about a group being able to come in, proclaiming the land part of their "sovereign nation", and doing whatever they want on the land. If the land is placed in trust, then they will be able to do whatever they want with the property, despite any negative impact on the environment and/or community.

    If we were talking about activities taking place on the reservation, then I would not have an issue with it. Being a sovereign nation, they can do as they like, and the people of their nation can make the decisions. But coming to our community, and expecting to be able to operate outside of the existing laws of this community, is about as ridiculous as you or I setting up shop on the reservation, and telling the tribe that we don't care about their community standards, and that we are going to do what we want, regardless of their laws, rules, and regulations.

  • K McLeod posted at 12:15 pm on Tue, Apr 3, 2012.

    K McLeod Posts: 293

    The Grant County way seems to be selective enforcement, AFTER the fact. It seems to be much worse at the county level than at the city level, but nontheless, even certain cities carry on the tradition.

    Property zoned for a certain use shouldn't be denied for said use because one might not like the group doing so, or, the worst of the repurcussions of an ALLOWABLE use may actually happen.
    This should have been previously addressed by our "highly qualified" central planners.

    I have known more than a few people who espouse that they are Libertarians wanting limited government at all levels but quickly turn tail and embrace status quo when a NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) issue creates a conflict in their self interests.
    This is a very common problem in politics today and you only have to look at government entitlements to see it in action.

    Using the heavy hand of government to enforce one's will or self interest doesn't really fit into the common definition of a libertarian.

    You ask: "Do you think this individual might modify his position if Exxon purchased property adjacent to his dwelling, and decided to put up a drill rig? Or if Consolidated Disposal purchased the adjacent lot and turned it into a landfill?"
    If current zoning allowed it, that is a risk that the one complaining willingly took. The example of the drilling rig is actually happening in many communities in ND and TX. Caveat emptor.
    Libertarian website suggests:

    Free and Independent

    Libertarians believe that being free and independent is a great way to live. We want a system which encourages all people to choose what they want from life; that lets them live, love, work, play, and dream their own way.

    To be principled; Consistent

    The Libertarian way is a logically consistent approach to politics based on the moral principle of self-ownership.
    Each individual has the right to control his or her own body, action, speech, and property.
    Government's only role is to help individuals defend themselves from force and fraud.


    The Libertarian Party is for all who don't want to push other people around and don't want to be pushed around themselves.
    Live and let live is the Libertarian way.

  • Bustyn posted at 11:53 am on Tue, Apr 3, 2012.

    Bustyn Posts: 302

    Skydive said "Last Time I checked free enterprise was a quality that made this country great ,it spurred innovations and business. If we weren't afforded that right people like you would have the corner on some markets being able to charge whatever you wanted to charge fleecing everybody without the care for reprocutions(sic). You attack my friend with malice and discontent."

    First you advocate free enterprise ("free enterprise was a quality that made this country great"), and then you attack free enterprise ("people like you would have the corner on some markets being able to charge whatever you wanted to charge fleecing everybody without the care for reprocutions(sic)"). You seem somewhat confused about the idea of free markets and free enterprise. And I never attacked you or your friend, with malice and discontent or otherwise. As for the city, they did not force your friend to pay $100,000. They may have required that he install a suppression system, which I think most would agree is necessary in a restaurant, but they did not tell him how much he needed to pay for it. I understand that you do not want to "sit here and reason". And I do not want to sit here and engage in hyperbole. So it appears that our discussion has come to an end.

  • Bustyn posted at 10:47 am on Tue, Apr 3, 2012.

    Bustyn Posts: 302

    @ McLeod, how so? Even a Libertarian cares for his community. I firmly believe in an individual's property rights, and in limited government. But I also realize that what I choose to do with my property may infringe on my neighbors rights. Suppose one were to take the position that an individual can, in every instance, do whatever he likes with his own property. Do you think this individual might modify his position if Exxon purchased property adjacent to his dwelling, and decided to put up a drill rig? Or if Consolidated Disposal purchased the adjacent lot and turned it into a landfill? My point is that individual property rights are not absolute. We should understand that we live as a community, and as members of such we must agree to some limitations regarding our property rights, for the benefit of all. We do not want our neighbors contaminating our ground water with their sewage. We do not want our neighbors putting on concerts all night long in their backyard. And although one could argue that preventing them from doing so would violate their property rights, I do not feel that it violates Libertarian principals. Libertarians understand that people do not have the right to do anything and everything that they want to do, anytime they want to do it. Even when it comes to their real property.

  • K McLeod posted at 1:41 pm on Mon, Apr 2, 2012.

    K McLeod Posts: 293

    You are confusing me. In prior posts you seemed to imply, if not directly state, that you agree with Libertarian principles.
    Your posts as of late regarding anything to do with the plans of the tribe seem to suggest otherwise.

  • Skydive ml posted at 11:17 am on Mon, Apr 2, 2012.

    Skydive ml Posts: 18

    Make your mind up for yourself but don't force your thinking on others here. You personally attacked the colville's and me! Thinking their going to be burning tires is rediculous. Last Time I checked free enterprise was a quality that made this country great ,it spurred innovations and business. If we weren't afforded that right people like you would have the corner on some markets being able to charge whatever you wanted to charge fleecing everybody without the care for reprocutions. You attack my friend with malice and discontent. Maybe the city should have reasonably agreed to make concessions with the restaurant to come up with a solution over forcing them to pay for a $100,000 fire suppression system. I am not going to sit here and reason. This is my opinion. I am afforded that. Take your comment to someone who cares!

  • Bustyn posted at 8:30 am on Mon, Apr 2, 2012.

    Bustyn Posts: 302

    I appreciate your empathy, but it really is misplaced. Rather than engaging in personal attacks, don't you think it would be better to make a reasoned argument, to persuade fearful and controlling people like me that yours is the correct position to take?

  • Skydive ml posted at 5:43 am on Mon, Apr 2, 2012.

    Skydive ml Posts: 18

    I feel so sorry for you that you live your life in fear of everything and are so controlling.

  • Bustyn posted at 7:32 pm on Sun, Apr 1, 2012.

    Bustyn Posts: 302

    @Skydive, so no examples of the council telling a new business that they are not welcomed in town? I didn't think so. You may support gentleman's clubs adjacent to residential and school areas. There are a few that do (like the owners), but forgive most of us if we have a problem with it. As for the restaurants going under in this town, here is some news for you, it's not just in this town! The vast majority of new restaurants (not established franchises) that open anywhere in this country fail. It's a very difficult industry to break into. My hat is off to Hamilton for his success, but he'll tell you himself have very difficult it has been. As for the city requiring updated fire suppression in a commercial structure, that's a no brainer. If you're going to do business in a business district, with adjacent businesses on the other side of the wall, then you need to have an adequate fire suppression system in place. I don't want my business to burn to the ground just because my business neighbor is too cheap to install a suppression system. This is especially true if the building houses residents, like an assisted living facility, condos, or an apartment complex.

    Just because the Colvilles have purchased commercial land doesn't mean we should sit idly by and allow them to put anything on the property, which is what they are going for. By asking that the land be held in trust, they are attempting to circumvent any oversight or regulation by the local, county, state, or federal authorities. They could put an open tire burning pit the size of a football field there if they wanted. Would you be ok with that, just because it accounted for a few extra jobs?

  • Skydive ml posted at 3:28 pm on Sun, Apr 1, 2012.

    Skydive ml Posts: 18

    Only in America!!!!! Last time I checked industry is what supports an economy not local shops!!!!! Local shops are then supported from the spending from industry workers!!!!! And you know what, I do support gentlemens clubs especially if that provides a willing person an opportunity to have a job instead of living off welfare. Have you seen how many restaurants have gone under in this town? Do you think its a coincidence? How about the city requiring an established business to put in a sprinkler system at the owners expense to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars forcing them out of business..... last time i checked we live in a free society with limits. The land that the Colville's purchased was zoned commercial no how is that their fault that it is located next to residential?

  • Bustyn posted at 10:55 am on Sun, Apr 1, 2012.

    Bustyn Posts: 302

    @Skydive, you may not have an issue with a casino, truck stop, or "gentleman's club" being built right next to your home or your child's school, but there are many of us in this community that do.

    You state "every time you here about some form of business coming to moses lake you here that they are not welcomed and all you see is dollar signs in the council's eyes.". Just when was the last time you heard of the city council say that a new business was not welcomed in Moses Lake? Look around. New businesses open shop in Moses Lake every year! As for the dollar signs you see in the council's eyes, you do realize that the money comes from the new businesses, right? So if it's money the council is after, then you must realize that opposing would want to welcome new businesses, not drive them away. No new businesses equals no increased revenue from state sales taxes.

  • Skydive ml posted at 10:46 pm on Fri, Mar 30, 2012.

    Skydive ml Posts: 18

    This is to bad! I for one welcome new businesses into this town unlike are communist city council! Let them build their truck stop, casino, and whatever. I am saddened that every time you here about some form of business coming to moses lake you here that they are not welcomed and all you see is dollar signs in the council's eyes. Who are we protecting here besides your own interest's or businesses. Last time i checked a little competiveness might not hurt!