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Office of Governor Gary Locke
Contact:  Governor's Communications Office, 360-902-4136

Kalispel Tribe approved to establish gaming in Airway Heights

OLYMPIA - As the last step in a lengthy federal process, the Kalispel Tribe today got notice from Gov. Gary Locke that the tribe may establish gaming in Airway Heights.

The governor concurred with findings of the Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt that a gaming establishment on the newly acquired land in Airway Heights would be in the best interest of the Kalispel Indian tribe and its members, and that such an establishment would not be detrimental to the surrounding community.

The tribe predicts the casino will be one of the largest commercial ventures in Airway Heights and will employ as many as 500 people.

The governor's decision means the Kalispel Tribe now is able to begin negotiations with the Washington State Gambling Commission on a gaming compact.

The Airway Heights site that is held in trust for the Kalispel Tribe was proclaimed a part of the Kalispel Reservation in October 1996 by Secretary Babbitt.

The process for the approval involved extensive research and analysis, including community meetings and studies of economic and environmental effects of such an establishment.

The establishment will feature primarily card games and other games of chance. The tribe has stated it will not operate gambling machines that are not clearly permissible under the law, such as slot machines.

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