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Tri-Cities WA Casino Readies For Environmental Impact Public Meeting April 24

Written By Katarina Vojvodic | Updated:
Speach Bubble Reads Environmental Impact Assessment

The first tribal casino in Washington is entering a crucial phase of the federal approval process. The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation‘s plan to build the Tri-Cities’ first tribal casino in the City of Pasco in Franklin County is now advancing.

According to the Colville Tribes, the Tri-Cities area is the traditional homeland of the Palus, one of the 12 tribes in the Colville Confederation.

The future site is comprised of a parcel bound by North Capitol Avenue, near the Kartchner exit, and north of the AutoZone warehouse. The Colville Tribes bought the land in 2019 and added to it in 2020.

The tribes currently operate a minor visitor center in a trailer on the small Kartchner-facing parcel across from Love’s Truck Stop.

BIA collects feedback on the potential impact of a proposed Washington casino

Federal actions necessary for the realization of the proposed project trigger the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the lead agency for compliance with NEPA and tasked with reviewing the Colville proposal, scheduled a virtual public meeting on April 24 at 6 p.m.

The agency will gather comments on the project’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). All interested parties can visit to register and submit feedback on the project.

EIS, mandated by federal law for certain projects, serves to define the potential impact of a proposed initiative on its surrounding environment while providing alternatives. Written comments are due May 3.

What would the WA tribal casino scheme look like?

The Colville Tribes envision the proposed Fee-to-Trust and casino resort project will feature:

  • A casino spread across 184,200 square feet
  • A 200-room hotel
  • An event center
  • Restaurants
  • Supporting facilities

The tribes plan to build a new version of its 12 Tribes casino franchise in Tri-Cities on the property, including a travel plaza and a potential water park.

As Tri-City Herald reported first, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation said they expected a decision on the application to transfer tribe-owned land in Pasco to a federal trust by the end of 2024 or early 2025, according to Cody Desautel, executive director.

Tri-Cities’ first tribal casino in the hands of BIA, faces criticism

The fate of the Tri-Cities’ first tribal casino is in the hands of the Office of Indian Gaming within the BIA.

This complex process, called the “Fee-to-Trust” procedure, enables the construction of casinos, hotels, restaurants, and associated businesses on non-reservation sites, as specified by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988.

In 2019, the Colville tribe acquired four parcels totaling over 190 acres of Pasco farmland.

The Colville tribe is positioned some 75 miles away from Ritzville. The tribe operates three casinos near its reservation in north-central Washington. In doing so, it supports the economic position of nearly 8,700 members.

As reported by the Tri-City Herald, the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation criticized the project. They are saying they also wanted to open a Tri-City casino. The Yakama objects to the Colville plan, emphasizing that the proposed casino is in its ceded territory under an 1855 treaty.

As the article further states, the Colville tribe believes Pasco is the traditional homeland of several of its constituent tribes, notably the Palus. They oppose these objections, which will soon be addressed through the federal review process.

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Katarina Vojvodic

Katarina Vojvodic is a lead writer for PlayUSA who lives in Toronto. Vojvodic provides coverage of the US gambling industry with a focus on US online casinos. Previously, she covered Ontario’s online gambling industry for Vojvodic holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Belgrade. Outside working hours, she can be found near the water with her husband and their two kids.

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