The Osage Nation responds to a letter presented to state lawmakers in Jefferson City.
The letter, drafted by proponents of the Osage River Gaming group, asks Missouri legislators to consider a bill sponsored by Republican Representative Ron Hicks to amend the Missouri constitution, allowing riverboat gambling facilities on the Osage River and making available a 14th casino license.
In the letter, the group argues that lawmakers’ support for the Osage Nation’s planned entertainment district in Osage Beach has waned after discovering they would have no tax obligation to the state or city.
Byron Bighorse, CEO of Osage Casinos, says that they have not seen any decline in support, however, and their plans to build a casino are a boon for local tourism.
“The project will dramatically expand the Lake area’s tourism footprint generating jobs and economic opportunity, and serving as a new revenue engine for the local and state tax base,” says Bighorse. “On average, 90 percent of the workforce employed at similar facilities operated by Osage Nation are non-tribal members, creating new employment opportunities and growing tax revenue for the local community.”
The group went on to deny any plans to build an alleged tax-free truck stop, which was detailed in the letter to lawmakers as being a threat to other local gas stations. The nation added that, in April alone, they donated over $60,000 to lake area charitable foundations, and intend to continue philanthropic contributions to local schools, law enforcement agencies, and community improvement projects.
According to sources, the next obstacle for the Osage Nation is getting approval from Missouri Governor Mike Parson, who has not openly supported the Osage Nation or their opposition.