Opposition growing to proposed Fort Smith casino - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

Opposition growing to proposed Fort Smith casino

FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) -- The effort by an Oklahoma Indian tribe and an Arkansas man to open a casino in Fort Smith, Arkansas, is drawing opposition from political leaders in that state.

The Keetowah Band of Cherokees and businessman Bennie Westphal are proposing a casino and hotel near the Arkansas River in downtown Fort Smith. The Keetowah's already have a gambling operation in Tahlequah.

Governor Mike Huckabee says he opposes the plan but says the next governor will likely have to deal with it and the two major candidates both say more legal research is needed.

Senator Mark Pryor opposes the plan and Senator Blanche Lincoln says she'll listen to what the people of Fort Smith want while Congressman John Boozman says he opposes casino gambling.

And the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma says the Keetoowahs don't have a claim to the land where the casino is proposed. Mike Miller says the band has never had a reservation or any land set aside for them.

The Keetowahs say they're applying through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, but the agency says it hasn't received an application.

It could take up to a year-and-a-half for the bureau to make a decision after getting the application.
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