AIRWAY HEIGHTS (AP) — Ground has been broken in the Spokane suburb of Airway Heights for a controversial new off-reservation casino resort for the Spokane Tribe of Indians.

Ground was broken Wednesday for the first phase of the project, which is a $40 million casino. During the next decade, the tribe plans to spend $400 million on a resort built under the Hard Rock Hotel brand.

The Spokesman-Review reports that the Spokane Tribe spent nine years getting the approval of U.S. Department of the Interior and Gov. Jay Inslee for the project.

The new casino will compete directly with the Kalispel Tribe's Northern Quest Casino, also in Airway Heights.

The Kalispel's opposed the competing project and the issue caused deep splits in the Spokane region's political and economic development communities.

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