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California Firm Will Back Yakama Nation’s Casino Tribe Switches After Talks With Florida Group Stall

Tue., Aug. 12, 1997

A California gaming company will build and operate the Yakama Indian Nation’s long-delayed casino, according to a memorandum of understanding the two have signed.

The tribe has not yet signed a final agreement with Hollywood Park Inc., based in Inglewood, Calif., Yakama Tribal Council Chairman Ross Sockzehigh said.

The tribe’s gaming officials acknowledged in April that the project had hit some snags in negotiations with the former financial backer, North American Sports Management of Maitland, Fla. The alcohol-free casino, which was expected to open this summer, is now slated to open at the end of the year or in early 1998.

Sockzehigh speculated that the Florida company has had financial difficulties and that may have been the reason for the change in financial backers.

But most of the plans agreed upon with North American Sports Management are expected to remain the same, including the size, family atmosphere and name of the casino, Sockzehigh said.

The casino, to be called Yakama Legends Casino, will be 50,000 square feet and is expected to create 350 jobs. Hollywood Park likely will receive the same percentage of casino profits, about 28 percent, as North American Sports Management was to receive, Sockzehigh said.

Hollywood Park owns at least two other casinos, one in Inglewood, Calif., and the other in Tunica County, Miss. The company is best known for its racetrack in Inglewood.

Under the terms of the agreement, Hollywood Park will lease tribal land and finance construction of the casino. Once completed, the tribe will sublease the casino and hire Hollywood Park to consult, according to The Daily Racing Form.

Tags: gambling

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