Tribe, execs propose casino in Sioux Falls area

Sioux Falls, South Dakota April 2010

A group of Sioux Falls business leaders and the Flandreau Santee Sioux tribe are developing a plan to build a resort casino in or near the city that would compete with a proposed casino just across the Iowa border.

Studies have predicted that if the resort is built in Iowa’s Lyon County, it will pull millions of dollars out of the South Dakota economy each year.

“I think if Lyon County didn’t exist, it would be a harder thing for the public to accept,” said David Sweet, the CEO of Hotel & Resort Management and one of the South Dakota casino backers. “But right now, it does exist, and it is going forward.”

Sponsors of the proposed Sioux Falls casino say the tribe is willing to negotiate profit-sharing agreements with the state and the city, similar to those paid by Deadwood casinos.

The plan faces several hurdles, including obtaining the governor’s permission and federal approval. It also would mark a significant change in the state’s gaming structure and could face opposition from the video lottery industry and anti-gambling activists.

Chris Hupke, executive director of the South Dakota Family Policy Council, said he was not familiar with the proposal but that “If it’s something about expanding gambling, we’ve got a real concern.”

The Flandreau Santee tribe also is suing the state in federal court, alleging Gov. Mike Rounds and state officials have not negotiated in good faith on the tribe’s efforts to secure more slots at its Royal River Casino north of Sioux Falls.

Federal law allows a tribe to buy off-reservation land within commuting distance of the reservation and place that land into trust.

The South Dakota group envisions a casino on par with the Lyon County plan. That $110 million project includes about 900 slot machines, 24 table games and eight poker tables. The proposed complex includes an 18-hole golf course, two restaurants and a 1,200-seat event center.