(Lander, WY) – The Fremont County Commissioners approved a retail liquor license for the Wind River Hotel & Casino today, July 11. The vote was four to one; Commissioner Ron Fabrizius was the only nay vote.
Alcohol will only be sold for full price, no happy hours or specials, in the sportsbook and restaurant, and to hotel guests, not on the main casino floor, according to Patrick Leckrone, CEO of Northern Arapaho Enterprises 2. In addition, a portion of what is sold will go back to the tribe for wellness programs to treat alcoholism.
Wind River Hotel & Casino Compliance Officer Jenni Wildcat shared they have a plan in place that addresses the concerns raised and restricts the sale of alcohol to only certain areas, as Patrick mentioned.
“Out of the 500 and something tribes that currently have gaming, it’s very rare for a tribe to not sell alcohol,” Wildcat explained. “I could probably count on one hand, because we have got to be able to give that experience to our patrons. And that’s how we generate the revenue. Once those proper procedures are in place, it’s pretty much fail-safe. We plan on doing TIPS training, (and) we plan on working with the local LEOs. We’ve already initiated some conversations with them to let them know.”
Northern Arapaho Tribal Member and educator Mary Brown spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting and urged the Commissioners to not vote for approving the license citing alcoholism, crime and issues with the transient population in the neighboring Gas Hills area.
Commissioner Clarence Thomas, whose district includes the reservation, said he didn’t have a “problem with it because it is their business. The issues that were being presented are their responsibility to take care of.”
Thomas reiterated that the license is only valid for a year.
“I would say out of respect between two governments. And the issue of what we keep talking about in terms of economic development, helping a business become more economically sound in their model. I would say, there needs to be an approval for this. And so we have a year to look and see what happens.”
Vice-chair Mike Jones said he appreciates the “due diligence that’s been done by the tribes, by their government and to take all the precautions necessary. And I think they’re at a disadvantage, which is, to me, not a good thing when the government’s policies and restrictions keep one business down from another. So I am very much in favor.”
Commissioner Jennifer McCarty’s comments echoed much of Jone’s.
Commissioner Ron Fabrizius did an informal survey of his own in which only one out of 12 surveyed wanted the casino to have the license. This accounted for his nay vote.
The motion was made by Thomas and seconded by Jones, with a final vote of four to one.