Questions arise about how many casinos reservation can support

Riverton, Wyoming (AP) 9-07

Consultants for the Northern Arapaho Tribe say the Wind River Reservation could become a regional gambling destination.

The number of casinos on the reservation is growing.

The Eastern Shoshone Tribe recently opened the Shoshone Rose Casino near Lander and plans are being made for a second Shoshone casino. The Wind River Casino, owned by the Northern Arapaho, has been open south of Riverton for over a year now.

The more casinos on the reservation, the better, consultants say.

They point out that Las Vegas-style gambling isn’t allowed anywhere else in Wyoming. What’s more, the slot machines and blackjack games are illegal in most neighboring states, too.

Mark Van Norman, executive director of the nonprofit National Indian Gaming Association in Washington, D.C., said Wyoming’s small population could limit major gambling growth. But Van Norman said there are ways to overcome that problem.

“One way that tribes have sought to overcome that is by having more upscale amenities and improving their entertainment offerings,” he said.

He said tribes like the Santa Anna Pueblo north of Albuquerque, N.M., have used their casinos as springboards for other types of economic development. The Santa Anna Pueblo added a five-star restaurant, resort, golfing, horseback riding and cultural events to their gambling offerings.

Some Western tribes have used gambling to open their vast reservation lands as tourist attractions.

“It offers the public a window into Indian culture, and gaming definitely provides a springboard to cultural tourism and other hospitality venues,” Van Norman said.

The Shoshone and Arapaho tribes on the Wind River reservation say they’re planning to build hotels, conference centers, music venues and truck stops.

“If you build the gaming casino, the gamblers will come,” said Ivan Posey, chairman of the Eastern Shoshone Business Council. “I envision our major casinos will have to offer a lot more than just regular casino gambling.”

Information from: Star-Tribune,