More details emerge on plans to build a lakeside entertainment complex.


A Lake Ozark casino developed by the Oklahoma-based Osage Nation could take years to become a reality.

According to a press release posted on the Osage Nation website, there are several hurdles to overcome before a shovel of dirt can be turned over.

In order for a tribe to build a casino, the press release says, the land must be in trust with the federal government and a gambling agreement must be in place with the state of Missouri – which has not happened. and could take years.

Nonetheless, the Lake of the Ozarks is abuzz with speculation that a casino could arrive at the lake after years of rumors and innuendo. In fact, just two years ago, a local group of investors announced plans to set up a casino near the Osage River, downstream from the Bagnell Dam. This process was hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 when the Missouri legislature was suspended for several weeks.

This time around, however, the Osage Nation of Oklahoma is reaching out to its homeland to eventually expand its casino, hotel and entertainment business. It would be the first time that the Osage Nation has left the Oklahoma limits where it owns and operates seven casino entertainment complexes. The Tulsa, Oklahoma facility was cited by the CEO of Osage Casinos as a potential example of what could be built in Lake Ozark.

“We are in the process of applying for the land in trust,” CEO Byron Bighorse said in a related news article. “It’s a process of about 12 months. There is an environmental assessment that must be done. It will be very similar to what we have done at home with our other casino properties. We hope to be able to submit the request within the next 12 months.

The location is believed to be on 28.3 acres of vacant land on the site of the former Baymont Inn / Denny's Restaurant.  The property faces both Bagnell Dam Blvd.  and Business 54.


The Osage Nation posted a press release on its website on Friday announcing plans to invest around $ 60 million to develop a hotel with games, restaurants and entertainment venues. The location is believed to be on 28.3 acres of vacant land on the site of the former Baymont Inn / Denny’s Restaurant. The property faces both Bagnell Dam Blvd. and Business 54.

The press release says the land was purchased in June by the Osage Nation.

A check with Miller County officials indicates that the land is currently owned by Lake Land Development, LLC, with Bryce Crowley, an attorney for Rolla, as the principal registrant. As of Monday, there was no record of an act involving the Osage Nation.

In addition to the entertainment center, the project will include infrastructure and land improvements, additional housing and long-term parking.

“We have established very good relationships with several communities in Missouri and are looking to be present in our homeland,” said Osage chief Geoffrey Standing Bear.

Historically, the Osage Nation once thrived in Missouri with a population of 200,000 Osage Tribe members at its peak. The historic influence of the Osage tribe in the lake area is still found today in tributes such as the beach in the town of Osage, the County of Osage and the school of the Osage. As they have done in similar projects, Osage Nation said it plans to give back to surrounding communities through philanthropic contributions to local schools, law enforcement and other first responders, to local schools, law enforcement and other first responders. local charities and community improvement projects. The Osage Nation is also committed to leveraging local suppliers and local businesses where possible to provide products and services to the facilities, according to the press release.

Local response

City of Lake Ozark officials have worked to attract a major player in economic development, improve infrastructure, and revise local ordinances to encourage development.

“The Town of Lake Ozark has taken proactive steps over the past few years to make our community a welcoming place for businesses, whether they are local startups on the historic Bagnell Dam Strip or a development. exterior on a larger scale, “said a spokesperson for the city administrator. “The Osage Nation Indian Tribe’s announcement of their intention to make a $ 60 million investment in our community is welcome. City officials look forward to working closely with Osage Indian Tribe leaders Nation to ensure their entertainment. Complex along Highway 54 will have a positive impact on our community, and we are extremely grateful for their recognition of our city and region as a development zone. “

Mayor Dennis Newberry, who, along with other city officials, has met with Osage Nation leaders, is taking a wait-and-see approach, leaving the door open to other Native American presences in the lake area.

“There has been a lot of excitement in our community this week and for good reason. I met a representative from the Osage Nation earlier this week who shared his client’s desire to develop a casino in Lake Ozark.

“Although I support economic development in general, there is still a lot to learn. I believe in community contribution, studying best practices and finding the best outcome for Lake Ozark. In addition to the Osage Nation, I know of another Indian nation that is seeking to settle on the Lake of the Ozarks. There is also more than one state licensed casino that seeks to be present in our community. Ultimately, our support for any large-scale economic development should be analyzed in terms of the impact on our community and the best overall outcome for Lake Ozark. It’s great to be taken into account by so many developments.

And now?

“We have established very good relationships with several communities in Missouri and are seeking to be present in our homeland,” Osage Nation Tribe Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear said in the statement.

According to another source of information, there are no Indian reservations in Missouri, so the steps between the release of the press release on Friday and the opening of the casino could take several years.

Here’s why:

• Any land purchased should be placed in trust for the nation by the Home Office.

• The nation must negotiate an agreement with the state dividing the responsibilities for enforcement of casino ownership law and establishing “the taxation by the Indian tribe of such activity at amounts comparable to amounts assessed by the State for comparable activities ”.

• Gov. Mike Parson, or his successor, is expected to approve the pact, according to federal law.

• Tribes have the right to offer gambling that reflects what the state allows “for any purpose by any person, organization or entity”.

• If the state refuses to negotiate a pact, or does not do so in good faith, the tribe can sue in federal court.

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