New entertainment district

Oklahoma's Osage tribe to build $60M casino in Missouri

Osage Casino Hotel in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Reading time 2:26 min
The complex will be located at the Lake of the Ozarks, featuring restaurants, parking, infrastructure improvements, more. The plan is set to be completed in multiple phases, and would bring new jobs, tourism and revenue. The tribal nation purchased 28 acres of land in June and is working on its application for the land trust. State officials, tourism leaders and other stakeholders have expressed support for the project.

The Osage Nation plans to build a $60 million casino-hotel at Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. The venue will be part of a new district, which will also include restaurants, entertainment, long-term parking, and infrastructure and land improvements.

The tribe calls the project “one of the most substantial economic development initiatives for the region in years.” The plan is set to be completed in multiple phases, and would bring new jobs, tourism and revenue for the Lake of the Ozarks community, according to a press statement.

The tribe’s newspaper, the Osage News, reports that the tribal nation purchased 28 acres of land in June, near Lake Ozark, a town situated against a northeast section of the lake. Byron Bighorse, Osage Casinos CEO, told the news source that the tribe is still working on its application for the land trust, a process which could take several months.

The Osage Nation says it has established “very good relationships” with several communities in Missouri, and sees this as an opportunity to “have a presence back” in its homeland. The Osage Nation is currently headquartered in Oklahoma.

Missouri state and local officials, as well as tourism leaders and other major stakeholders, have expressed support for the project, the tribe claims. “It sounds like a promising opportunity to bring jobs to Missouri and I am looking forward to working with the Osage Nation as this project develops,” said State Senator Mike Bernskoetter (R- Jefferson City).

Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitors Bureau expressed similar enthusiasm, as well as the Missouri Hotel and Lodging Association. “Experienced strategic partners such as the Osage Nation not only bring the obvious jobs, capital and business acumen to this project but also a genuine desire to see the people of the Lake of the Ozarks region and Missouri Tourism prosper and thrive for years to come,” said the Board President of the latter association.

According to the Missouri Department of Economic Development Division of Tourism, tourism in Miller County, where the project will be located, currently generates approximately $40.7 million and 682 jobs annually to the overall impact of tourism in the state. In Camden County, tourism is responsible for $187.45 million and 3,958 jobs.

The tribe says it plans to give back to the surrounding communities through “philanthropic contributions,” as well as leveraging local vendors and local businesses “whenever possible” to provide products and services for the facilities.

The Osage Nation previously hinted at the now-announced move on September 7. On said date, in the context of the 2021 Tzi-Zho Session of the Osage Nation Congress, Geoffrey Standing Bear said that by October the nation would begin working to tell the people of the US “this is our homeland; our legal, recognized homeland.”

"There are treaties in place that we did not fully agree with that drove us out of there and we want to claim those properties,” he added.

The Osage Nation currently operates seven casinos in Oklahoma. The tribe will have to negotiate a new compact with the state for the announced development, which would be subject to federal approval.

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