Indian Gaming Today

Monday, August 07, 2006

Is RIGHT Wrong?

Thread: Proposed IGRA Amendments

This past Wednesday, the House Resources Committee passed H.R. 4893 by 27-9. The bill, introduced by Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.), is called the Restricting Indian Gaming to Homelands of Tribes, or the RIGHT bill.

The RIGHT bill would do away with the "best interests" exception to IGRA's general prohibition against gaming on newly acquired lands.

That exception, which we've explained in some detail in prior postings, allows a tribe to open an off-reservation casino if it is in the best interest of the tribe and not detrimental to surrounding communities. The U.S. Secretary of the Interior has to approve gaming on the land, and the state's governor must concur -- in other words, the governor has veto power over off-reservation casinos under this exception.

Why the "best interests" exception has come under such severe attack is beyond sensible explanation. The exception has resulted in a grand total of three off-reservation casinos since 1988, and the states, through the governor's veto, always have had complete control over off-reservation gaming under the exception -- the governor could just say "no" for any reason or even no reason at all. In fact, what the bill really does is restrict *states'* rights -- under Pombo's proposal, even if a state wanted to partner with a tribe on an off-reservation casino development, it could not.

One of the intentions behind IGRA was to encourage states and tribes to work together; the RIGHT bill goes in the wrong direction.


  • Good analysis of this Bill, Kathryn and Steven. I believe that the "threat" of Indian gaming and the misconceptions out there are hard issues to face. We, in Grand Forks, are facing the same misconceptions and it frustrates the purpose and intent of IGRA when people make uninformed decisions. Too many times in our era, we see people in power supporting what they feel is a decision made on factual bases. This time, like when so many others do the same, they didn't do their homework and this bill slipped through the crackes. Further efforts to regulate Indian gaming is going to result in further oppression of American Indian communities. While some strong horses take the lead, other small gaming tribes will find themselves still in the stables when their hands are tied by Congress like in this case.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wednesday, August 09, 2006 7:21:00 AM  

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