For the last 20 years, the Yankton Sioux Tribe of South Dakota has been operating the Fort Randall Casino in Lake Andes. In all that time, the casino has remained small, hosting just 250 slot machines, along with the addition of blackjack and poker tables. Now, the tribe is seeking a new compact with the state that would allow for an expansion of gaming, increasing its slots capacity by 100%.
On Thursday, the Yankton Sioux Tribe and community officials gathered at the Wagner Boys & Girls Club for a public hearing to discuss negotiations of the new compact, and listen to any support or resistance to the plan.
When none stood to speak in opposition to adding more slot machines at the Fort Randall Casino, or any of the other issues outlined in the New State-Tribal Gaming Compact, officials determined it was ready to send off to the governor’s desk for final approval.
Major Issues of New State-Tribal Compact
According to the Yankton Sioux Gaming Commission’s Chairman, Arthur Standing Cloud, the new casino compact revolves majorly around two key points. First of all, the tribe wants to double the number of slot machines from 250 to 500. That was the main element of the compact for the Yankton Sioux Tribe.
As a concession, the state required one stipulation; the inclusion of a limited waiver of sovereign immunity. The limited waiver would eliminate the tribe’s option to use a defense of sovereign immunity against future claims covered by Fort Randall Casino’s liability insurance.
While the limited waiver isn’t a desirable feature for any tribal casino, Standing Cloud said his people were perfectly willing to accept those terms in trade for the ability to install the new slot machines.
The Tribal Chairman said it “came down to the main one, (which) was increasing the machines, and to get to the 500, we had to insert that limited waiver.”
Other Features of the New Casino Compact
The agreement came with other benefits for the Yankton Sioux Tribe, including a small but appreciated quantity of sovereignty returned to them. The previous compact required state regulators to handle background checks for the casino’s employees, while the new version will hand that power over to the tribe.
“Our thing is the sovereignty, being able to do things ourselves,” said Standing Cloud. “We felt that we’ve been in business 20 years, we can handle that ourselves.”
Additionally, Fort Randall Casino would be able to extend its range of wagering options. Currently, the casino offers slot machines, blackjack, poker and wagers on horse and greyhound races. The new compact would allow the tribe to install craps and roulette tables as well.
A few of the previous gaming compact’s feature were left untouched. For instance, the tribe’s existing right to place no limits on horse/greyhound max wagers would remain unchanged.
The agreement will also continue to allow gaming proceeds to be used for the provision of public services throughout the local community. However, proceeds cannot be contributed towards influencing any political election held in South Dakota, be it local, state or federal.
As always, the state-tribal casino compact – assuming it’s approved by Gov. Dennis Daugaard – will be subject for review in four years time.