Native American tribes, like the Osage Nation, have faced baseless, discriminatory attacks for centuries. This week, the Missouri Senate Emerging Issues Committee Members were presented with racist and false claims at a hearing regarding casino development for the Lake of the Ozark.
As the CEO of Osage Casinos, I am here to set the record straight about our plans to return to our ancestral homeland, to help grow the Lake area economy, and to put an end to particularly hateful rhetoric displayed by one individual at the recent hearing, who suggested Native Americans were not the type of business owners Missourians want.
Our plan to bring a world-class entertainment district to the Lake of the Ozarks is moving forward as planned, and once completed will see the Osage Casinos make a $60 million investment in the community. This investment we are making in our ancestral homeland will bring new jobs, tourism and revenue to the area. Phase 1 of this project includes construction of a casino, sports bar, restaurant, and convention center. Additionally, we will build a hotel to compliment the entertainment district.
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. Osage Casinos pays the same taxes to state and federal agencies that all other employers pay, including payroll and Medicare taxes. Our employees are paid above market rates, pay state and federal income taxes and pay payroll taxes, in addition to sales taxes
Osage Casinos also enters into agreements with local agencies for law enforcement, fire, ambulance, and utilities for services at our casinos. For these services, local governments, including municipal and county, are compensated in lieu of taxes. State of the art surveillance and security measures are implemented to deter crime. These systems and measures are currently utilized in other Osage Casinos’ properties and are on par to those used in commercial casinos nationwide.
It is the Osage Casinos’ mission to ensure the safety of all patrons. In the unfortunate and uncommon event crime may occur on our property, our security team, including Osage Nation Tribal police, work with local authorities to make certain those perpetrators are prosecuted. Contrary to false assertions, Missouri state criminal statutes will apply on our property, and we will work with local law enforcement partners to enforce those laws.
We are not only making a major investment in the Lake of the Ozarks but working with stakeholders to showcase our commitment to be a valuable member of the Lake community.
As we have done on an ongoing basis in every community in which Osage Casinos has a presence, we have made significant philanthropic contributions to law enforcement and other first responders, local charities, youth programs, and community improvement projects. We have donated to Kids’ Harbor, Citizens Against Domestic Violence, Lake Ozark Police Department, Miller County Sheriff’s Department, Lake Ozark Fire Protection District, Lake Area Youth Robotics, Osage Football League, and the Community Foundation of the Lake. We are already working on more charitable donations in 2023.
Why is the Osage Nation making a major economic development project in Missouri? It’s because our tribe is deeply connected to Missouri. Missouri is our ancestral homeland where the Osage once flourished. Our history remains deeply rooted in this Missouri area and continues today through cultural education and preservation initiatives.
As CEO of Osage Casinos, I can assure you we are going to do exactly what we say we are going to do.