Opposition Growing to Proposed Fort Smith Casino

MARCH 13, 2006 - Posted at 8:10 a.m. CST

FORT SMITH, AR - A proposal to put an Indian casino at Fort Smith has caught the attention of several Arkansas political leaders, who have begun lining up in opposition.  Senator Mark Pryor says Arkansans have addressed the issue many times and said "No" each time.  He said he would oppose any effort to undermine their will.

Arkansas businessman Bennie Westphal and the Keetoowah band of Cherokees, based in Oklahoma, are seeking clearance to open the casino on land along the Arkansas River in downtown Fort Smith.  The band already has a gambling operation in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

The tribe has federal recognition and says it is applying through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, though the agency says it has not received an application.  It could take 18 months for a decision from the bureau once the application is received.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)