Indian Gaming Today

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

An Active Interior Department

In prior posts, we've mentioned the recent activity of the Interior Department. We've also talked about the prospects for Indian gaming in Massachusetts.

Here's a link to an article in the Cape Cod Times where Kathryn is quoted on the implications of Interior's recent decisions on other tribes' efforts to conduct gaming on newly acquired lands. Click on this: Decision Could Sour Mashpee Wampanoag's Casino Plans.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Those Politically Pesky Proposed Class II Regulations

The National Indian Gaming Commission's proposed regulations for Class II machines are, without a doubt, extremely controversial.

Originally slated for formal issuance in 2005, interagency contestation with the Department of Justice and continued criticism from tribes and games manufacturers considerably slowed the process. Following the initial announcement of the proposed standards, a group of prominent manufacturers formed the Technical Standards Work Group (TSWG) to draft an alternative regulatory scheme to submit to the NIGC. Together with the Technical Standards Tribal Advisory Committee, a group of tribal operators and experts that had been advising the Commission, the TSWG submitted alternative Technical Standards to the NIGC in early 2007. The NIGC announced in 2007 that it would issue the new rules in summer 2007. Months passed, and the NIGC finally issued the revised proposed regulations in late October 2007. A few weeks later, the NIGC announced that it would extend the public comment period on the regulations until January 24, 2008.

Many of the public comments that have been submitted by tribes are critical of the proposed regulations with regard to both substance and process. Procedurally, some tribes have demanded more meaningful consultation with tribal governments under the NIGC's "government-to-government" policy, and also requested a longer public comment period to allow thorough review of the complex proposed regulations and appropriate tribal government responses. Substantively, a number of tribes take issue with a "sea change" in the law regarding Class II gaming, criticizing the regulations as inconsistent with Congress's intent and also noting that current Class II machines comply with federal court cases interpreting IGRA.

The public comments are available at a search for "Class II gaming" will turn up the proposed regulations as well as some additional documents; you can also enter a specific title (Classification Standards for Class II games, Definitions for Electronic or Electromechanical Facsimile, Technical Standards for Class II games and Minimum Internal Control Standards for Class II games). Then, click on "Docket ID" for the proposed regulation you wish to view. The public comment submissions are embedded in the docket, and can be viewed in .pdf form.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

The Indian Gaming Debate in Massachusetts

If you're interested in following the complex debate over Indian gaming in Massachusetts, here are some useful links:

"The State's Big Bet: Is Gambling Good for Massachusetts?" This page, on, provides links to a three-part series on casino gambling, covering economic and social impacts and the state's political climate, as well as links to recent articles.

Boston Magazine's coverage of the casino debate in Massachusetts:
"The Smart Money on Casinos" and "The Gambling Man."

Social Law Library links related to
casino gaming in Massachusetts.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Breaking News: Interior Disapproves Catskills Casino Plans

Late Friday, the Department of Interior issued a letter rejecting the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe's plan for an off-reservation casino in the Catskills.

The letter, issued by Interior Associate Deputy Secretary James Cason, stated, "The remote location of the proposed gaming facility may encourage reservation residents to leave the reservation for an extended period to take advantage of the job opportunities created. . . . The potential departure of a significant number of reservation residents and their families could have serious and far-reaching implications for the remaining tribal community and its continuity as a community."

This reflects the current Secretary's stance on so-called "far flung" lands, but nevertheless is surprising given that the support of Governor Spitzer for a tribal casino in the Catskills.

Read more by clicking

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Secretary Kempthorne Under Fire for Delays on "Off-Reservation" Casinos

In New York and Wisconsin, tribes are growing tired of waiting for Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to issue decisions on "off-reservation" casino proposals.

The St. Croix Chippewa Indian Tribe in Wisconsin has had a proposal for a casino near Beloit in the works for some seven years, while the St. Regis Mohawk proposal for a casino in New York's Catskills region dates back to 1996.

Both proposals are proceeding under IGRA's "best interests" exception, which allows a tribe to operate gaming on newly acquired lands. For the best interests exception to apply, the Interior Secretary must make a two-part determination: that gaming on the land would be in the best interest of the tribe, and would not be detrimental to surrounding communities. Additionally, the state governor must concur with the Secretary's favorable decision. Often, casino proposals under the best interests exception fail because of the lack of gubernatorial support.

That makes the Secretary's delay on the Mohawk proposal particularly surprising, given Governor Spitzer's public endorsement of an off-reservation casino in the Catskills.

Read more here, and here.