Chickasaw Nation expanding its gaming network

Monday, July 29th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

KINGSTON, Okla. (AP) _ A new Indian gaming center near Lake Texoma has become a popular attraction for Texans.

The Chickasaw Nation opened the Texoma Gaming Center on July 11 less than two miles east of Kingston.

The gaming center is made up of several portable buildings containing about 350 electronic gambling machines, Police Chief John Canoe said.

But the tribe has started the dirt work to build a large casino on the property, said Canoe, who has been working at the gaming center on weekends to provide security.

``It stays busy,'' Canoe said. ``Lots of folks come in from Texas.''

The Chickasaw Nation plans to build a casino, boat storage facility, convenience store and bait shop in the area, tribal spokesman Tony Choate said. The casino should be finished in six to nine months, he said.

Choate said plans are still being developed for commercial development near Lake Texoma. Canoe said a tribal official told him that there are plans for a hotel.

Two years ago, the Chickasaw Nation purchased 1,198 acres in Marshall County for $1.8 million, court records show.

The land was placed into trust status by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs in February 2001 and taken off the property tax rolls, Marshall County Assessor Debbie Croasdale said.

The Chickasaw Tribe previously announced it was moving its boarding school, the Carter Seminary, from Ardmore to a residential school campus it is building near Kingston.

The Chickasaw Nation has at least a dozen gaming centers and travel plazas with gambling machines in the state.

According to a study released last month and paid for by the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association, the Chickasaw Nation has more electronic gambling machines than any other tribe in the state.

As of Dec. 31, the Chickasaws had 1,353 gambling machines in the state.

Last month, the Chickasaw Nation bought a 4,300-acre cattle ranch near Davis in Murray County for $4.55 million. Tribal officials say they'll use the ranch to raise and sell cattle.