Indian Gaming Today

Friday, August 10, 2007

Interesting NIGC Reasoning on the Seneca Nation

A couple of days ago, we posted on NIGC’s recent approval letter for the Seneca Nation to open the Buffalo Creek Casino on newly acquired lands. The NIGC determined that the land in question fell within an exception to IGRA's general prohibition against gaming on newly acquired lands.

Interestingly, the NIGC stated, "In addition to the current exercises of governmental power, by operating and regulating gaming, which is a governmental function under IGRA, the Nation will exercise governmental authority over the lands."

We are confused by this last part, since IGRA's "Indian lands" requirement is best understood as a prerequisite to gaming -- that is, gaming should not be evidence of the exercise of governmental authority that is required to allow gaming on the lands. The question of Indian lands, especially in conjunction with gaming on newly acquired lands, is increasingly important, and considered and consistent legal standards are imperative. One of the reasons that the question is tricky is that the term "Indian lands" is unique to IGRA, and there simply aren't a lot of federal court opinions interpreting the meaning of the term to provide clear guidance to the NIGC.

The NIGC Indian Land Opinion is available here.
See also "Opponents Say Indian Casino Illegal" in Newsday.



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