Native Lights Casino Tonkawa Ok



By Anthony Thornton
NEWKIRK - Four months after being accused of having mob ties, the Tonkawa Nation was allowed to open a new casino last week.

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Native Lights Casino Tonkawa Oklahoma

Federal regulators said the tribe has made significant strides to avoid such relationships in the future.

An agreement signed Wednesday by tribe President Anthony Street and Phil Hogen, chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission, led to the opening of the tribe's Native Lights Casino north of Newkirk.

That casino features 570 electronic machines and four card tables.

As part of the agreement, the Tonkawas agreed to pay a $1 million fine in five annual installments of $200,000.

However, if the tribe complies with its probation, it can apply $300,000 toward starting or continuing college accounting and auditing programs 'or other gaming-related curricula.' Also, in the final two years, the $200,000 annual fine is reduced to $50,000 and $25,000, respectively, if the tribe stays clean.

Tribe makes changes
Federal regulators ordered the tribe to close its casino near Tonkawa on Feb. 2, more than six years after the tribe was warned that casino manager Edward Street lacked proper credentials.

Federal documents show the tribe was paying Street's company more than the 30 percent of gross profit allowed by law.

Edward Street is the tribal president's brother.

The closure order came as another federal agency prepared to release a report showing Edward Street had allowed organized crime to launder tens of millions of dollars through the casino.

In 2004 alone, $60 million in wagers passed through the metal building's 200-square-foot room for horse racing bets, federal documents revealed.

The tribe agreed to resolve its Bank Secrecy Act violations in that case by paying a $1 million fine. Edward Street agreed to a $1.5 million fine.

The tribe moved quickly to fire Edward Street and his management company, Oakland Enterprises.

In May, the tribe's elected officials fired themselves as the Tonkawa Gaming Commission and hired some nationally respected casino regulators to take their place.

Tonkawa

The new gaming commission's lawyer is Nelson Westrin, who until December was one of three commissioners of the National Indian Gaming Commission.

Tribe agrees to comply
In addition to the $1 million fine, the tribe made these concessions to resume casino operations:

Have no association with Edward Street, any company owned by him or a separate company called Peter Wagner Enterprises.

Cannot hire any of Street's former management employees.

Provide documentation showing that tribal bank accounts associated with Street have been closed.

Cancel all contracts that Street negotiated with machine vendors.

Provide audits of the tribe's gaming operations.

Native Lights Casino Tonkawa Ok

Train all casino employees on internal controls and Bank Secrecy Act requirements.

'I am cautiously optimistic that the regulatory framework the Tonkawa Tribe of Oklahoma has put in place will ensure future compliance' with federal laws, Hogen said.

His agency on Thursday inspected the tribe's new Native Lights Casino and approved its opening. The casino is on U.S. 77 near the Kansas border.

The Tonkawa Casino on the tribal complex remains closed.

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