Also now served at Shoshone Rose Casino near Lander

By Ernie Over


On a 4-1 vote, the Fremont County Commissioners on Tuesday approved a retail liquor license for the Wind River Hotel and Casino on the Wind River Indian Reservation. Only commissioner Ron Fabricius voted against the measure, saying an informal survey he had taken saw a majority of folks opposed. 

Commissioner Clarence Thomas, whose district includes a major portion of the reservation, said it was out of respect for their government that the county should approve the request. “They will be responsible for their business and their people, they will be accountable and I can’t say that for another tribe,” Thomas said. “The Arapaho people gave their government the authority to do this.”

The Shoshone Rose Casino is apparently now serving alcohol; it’s unclear which permit or permits provide for the sale of beer and liquor there. Shoshone Rose made inquiries about a county license application earlier this year. 

Fabricius said on the basis of his 12-person survey, in which only one supported the issue, he said, “I could not support this right now.”

That raised the hackles of Thomas, who noted that his fellow commissioner had voted for other businesses without questions. “Now we’re on the reservation and you say ‘no.’ Why is this?” he asked. Continuing, Thomas said any business on the reservation “should get the same respect as those in the county. Others we don’t bat an eyelash at – weddings, concerts, we’re approving liquor requests all the time.”

Chairman Larry Allen said the Wyoming Liquor Commission had signed off on the application. He said the commission has the opportunity in another year, if there are problems, to deny a renewal. 

One speaker, who spoke so softly her name went  unheard, said, “This is America. Everybody can have a business here, unless it’s First Nation people. Everything we try to help ourselves with economic development run into obstacles. We deal with that all the time. You have your government, we have the BIA. We don’t ask government for a handout; we want to be successful by ourselves.”

Earlier in the meeting the Wind River Hotel and Casino CEO Patrick Leckrone said the liquor service would be available for people having a meal in the restaurant, and at the back of the casino at its Sportsbook. He said there is a plan for the alcohol service and he said due to his experience, noting this is the fourth tribe he’s worked with, the last thing he wants is alcohol mixed with gambling. 

Jenni Wildcat, an employee at the casino, said its plan is adequate, there would be restriction of sales and based on other casinos she has experience with, the transition to selling alcohol went smoothly. “We have to generate revenue,” she said.

It was noted that revenue from the casino operation helps subsidize other tribal programs, including addiction recovery and support. One woman noted that the extra revenue “would actually help people with alcohol problems and treatment. After hearing what they have in store this would be very beneficial to the tribe. It will help ourselves.”

Commissioner Mike Jones said he was impressed with the casino’s plan. “They have taken all the precautions necessary. They are at a disadvantage and we can’t keep one business down over another. I’m very much in favor.”

Similar sentiment was expressed by commissioner Jennifer McCarty. 

The motion was made by Thomas, seconded by Jones. The vote to approve was 4-1.