Minnesota’s Star Lake Casino Proposal Dies After Opposition Prevails
Anti-gambling groups in Minnesota declared victory in their fight to stop a casino from being built on Star Lake in Otter Tail County.
Using the tagline “It’s not a done deal”, the groups vigorously fought against the construction of a sprawling casino resort and convention center that would also have featured an RV park. The White Earth band of Chippewa first proposed the project 3 years ago. They hoped to build the casino resort on Indian land and other properties that the tribe acquired on Star Lake which is a popular but remote lake.
The ‘Not A Done Deal’ slogan appeared on signs that were placed along Highway 41 which passes through the south end of Star Lake where the casino would have been built.
Ty Dayton is the head of a concerned citizens group and he used the tagline in emails. Dayton was a driving force behind the opposition to the massive project.
The catchphrase was a message to those who were opposed to the casino. It told them not to give in and not give up the fight against the casino resort. Dayton knew that the tribe would face a lot of challenges such as overcoming hurdles from the government, regulatory bodies, and environmental groups. Dayton thinks that the backers of the casino didn’t consider those challenges well enough and hence were unable to prevail.
White Earth Council Pulls Plug
The White Earth tribal council voted last week to abandon the project which has struggled to kick-off. Dayton rejoiced and stated that the tribe’s decision was the one that his supporters had been waiting for. The White Earth band already operates Mahnomen’s Shooting Star Casino which draws customers from the Fargo-Moorhead area. The band also runs a small satellite casino which is located in Bagley.
The controversial Star Lake project appeared to be doomed from the beginning. There was vehement opposition from residents and landowners and the proposal also caused divisions in the tribe. The final blow to the project occurred back in June with the tribal election. Two opponents of the project won seats on the tribal council and they used their influence to stop the plan.
Many non-native community members like Dayton who are local property owners were against the project because they envisioned environmental damage and harm to residents’ quality of life. The new tribal council took the position that the casino would be a financial risk. It was estimated that about $7 million has already been wasted on the project on such things as the purchase of properties, planning, and environmental fees.