Indian Gaming Today

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Class III Gaming in Maine?

Earlier this month, the Maine state legislature approved a bill that would allow the Penobscot Indian Nation to operate 100 slot machines at its Class II facility at Indian Island. Governor John Baldacci, however, vetoed the bill, stating his position that any expansion of gambling must be approved directly by the voters through a referendum. Now the tribe is seeking alternatives that would allow it to operate slot machines, and also acting on its disappointment with the governor's veto.

The Penobscot Nation has resigned from the Main Indian Tribal-State Commission, which was created by Gov. Baldacci in 2006 to improve tribal-state relations. The tribe also is considering pursuing repeal of the Maine Implementing Act, a state law that implemented the federal Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act of 1980.

Read more here in the Bangor Daily News.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Senate Indian Affairs Committee Oversight Hearing on the NIGC

We testified at the April 17 U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee's oversight hearing on the National Indian Gaming Commission. The impetus for the hearing was tribes' concerns about the NIGC's consultation practices. The NIGC has an internal policy that obligates it to conduct government-to-government consultation with tribes in adopting policy and promulgating regulations. As the Committee heard, though, many tribes perceive that the NIGC's consultation process is form over substance -- that is, that tribes' concerns don't have much affect on the NIGC's policies and regulations. This criticism has been raised throughout the NIGC's protracted process of drafting new Class II "bright line" regulations. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) has introduced a bill in the House that would create a statutory obligation on the NIGC to engage in meaningful consultation with tribes. Several of the hearing witnesses urged the Committee to introduce a similar bill in the Senate. At the hearing, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Chair of the Indian Affairs Committee, did not indicate whether the Committee would draft its own version of the Rahall bill.

After the hearing, it seemed that the focus was less on consultation and more on Class II machines. NIGC Chair Phil Hogen caught much attention for two comments he made. First, that he intended to shepherd the promulgation of the new "bright line" regulations before he left the NIGC. And second, that he estimated that 60% of so-called "bingo slots" are being operated in violation of current law. Interestingly, Sen. Dorgan did not follow up with what we thought were two obvious questions on the second point: if the machines are illegal, what is the NIGC doing to enforce current law, and if they're illegal under current law, why are new regulations necessary? We think Hogen may have overstated his certainty that the machines are in violation of current law, but perhaps that will be the topic of another hearing . . . . .

Download our testimony or link to the April 17 oversight hearing by clicking here and then on the announcement of Kathryn's testimony at the hearing.

Find press coverage of the hearing
here and here.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Battle Over Bingo in California

There’s a battle brewing in California over an attempt to expand charitable bingo in that state. A state bill that would increase prize limits beyond $250 is backed by the Catholic Church and various charities and nonprofits.

But the bill, SB 1238, along with another bill (SB 1626) set for a state senate hearing next week that would authorize electronic bingo machines for charities, has run into significant opposition from gaming tribes. Gaming tribes assert that bingo machines are illegal under state law, and also, that electronic bingo machines would violate tribes’ exclusive right to operate electronic games, as codified in tribal-state compacts.

Bingo battles aren’t just in palaces anymore.

For more in the San Diego Union-Tribune, click here.


Friday, April 11, 2008

Mashpee Wampanoag Casino Plan

Now that state-sanctioned casinos are (temporarily) off the table in Massachusetts, the Mashpee have shared a plan for a casino that would operate under IGRA, should the tribe be successful in its efforts to have land taken into trust.

The casino would be located off of Route 44 in Middleboro. At 240,000 square feet, the casino would include a retail area and event center, as well as an attached 1,200 room hotel. An 18-hole golf course would be added later.

Read more here:
Tribe Offers Peek at Casino Plans


Monday, April 07, 2008

Interior Disapproves Catskills Casino Plans

Some of you may have heard that the Interior Department recently issued a letter rejecting the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe's (NY) 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."

The rationale reflects the current Secretary's stance on so-called "far flung" lands—which has raised both procedural and substantive questions about the extent of the agency’s authority—but nevertheless is surprising given that the support of Governor Spitzer for a tribal casino in the Catskills.

Read more at "US Officials Reject Catskill Casino Plans."

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