Indian Gaming Today

Monday, September 29, 2008

Steve Quoted on John McCain in Sunday's NYT

On Sunday, Sept. 28, the New York Times ran a front-page story with the headline, "For McCain and Team, a Host of Ties to Gambling."

Steve is the lead quote for the story:

"One of the founding fathers of Indian gaming" is what Steven Light, a University of North Dakota professor and a leading Indian gambling expert, called Mr. McCain.”

Steve was referring, of course, to McCain's role as one of the original architects of the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. How one interprets the story of McCain’s subsequent links to the gambling industry as a whole depends in part on how it’s depicted the Times story and in much larger part on the frame through which one views Indian gaming, commercial casino interests, Jack Abramoff, and so forth.

More recently, McCain has questioned the rapid growth of the Indian gaming industry and called for legal reform to place greater state and federal controls on tribal gaming. We examined McCain's and others' calls for legal and political reform, and offered alternative reforms, in our 2006 article in the Virginia Journal of Social Policy and the Law ("How Congress Can and Should 'Fix' the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act: Recommendations for Law and Policy Reform," 13 Va. J.Soc. Pol'y & the L. pp. 396-473). The article was an outgrowth of the concrete recommendations we made in the final chapter of our first book, "Indian Gaming and Tribal Sovereignty: The Casino Compromise" (2005), and was inspired by our testimony before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee in 2005, when McCain was chair of the Committee.

Read more:

Jo Becker and Don Van Natta, Jr., For McCain and Team, a Host of Ties to Gambling New York Times, September 28, 2008, at 1.

Steven Andrew Light and Kathryn R.L. Rand, Indian Gaming and Tribal Sovereignty: The Casino Compromise

Senate Indian Affairs Committee Oversight Hearing on the Regulation of Indian Gaming (Apr. 27, 2005)

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Gambling Law Symposium at Drake

On September 12, we participated in the Gambling Law Symposium at Drake University Law School, co-sponsored by the International Masters of Gaming Law . As is typical for IMGL events, the symposium was packed with highly interesting and useful information, both from the "view from 36,000 feet" of academics and the "on the ground" perspective of gaming law practitioners and regulators. We gave a presentation on 20 years of Indian gaming under IGRA, including where we've been and where we seem to be going in the next 20 years. The lineup of speakers also included:

Attorney Heidi Staudenmaier on "Enforceability of Tribal Court Judgments and Related Issues in Light of the Pending Billion Dollar Judgment Against Harrah's in the Mohawk Tribal Court"

Law professor I. Nelson Rose on "Implementation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act"

Attorney Sean McGuinness on "The Ethical Challenges of Representing Gaming Clients"

Panel discussion on the Iowa Smokefree Air Act and its impact on casinos (and a pending lawsuit challenging the same), with Jack Ketterer, the Administrator for the Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission, Matt Gannon, an Assistant Attorney General for Iowa, Joe Massa, the General Manager for Riverside Casino and Golf Resorts, and George Eichorn, the attorney behind the challenge to the Act

Attorney and gambling law expert Tony Cabot on "What Is Gambling Under the Law?"

Public administration professor Bill Thompson on "Gambling Law and Regulation in Ireland"

Attorney Dennis Whittlesey on "Indian Gaming at the Crossroads"

Mathematics professor Bob Hannum on "Poker and the Law"

Attorney Ben Hayes on "The Business of Betting: A Unified Interpretation of Federal Gambling Laws"

Look for a special symposium issue of the Drake Law Review for forthcoming articles by the symposium presenters.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Starts and Stops in Massachusetts

In early September, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe sent a formal request to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to initiate Class III compact negotiations. The request relates to the Tribe's proposal for a $1 billion resort casino in Middleborough, where the tribe currently is working to have land placed in trust by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior.

Ordinarily, such a request would trigger IGRA's requirement that the state negotiate in good faith -- and if no compact is reached after 180 days, then the tribe could sue the state in federal court. But IGRA also says that a tribe "having jurisdiction over the Indian lands upon which a class III gaming activity . . . is to be conducted" can request compact negotiations with the state. And at least one court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, has held that before the state's good faith duty will be triggered, the tribe requesting compact negotiations must actually possess qualifying "Indian lands."

So, were the Mashpee trying to trigger IGRA's good faith duty?

Without "Indian lands" in hand, so to speak, it seems pretty clear that the state doesn't have to negotiate with the Tribe. The Tribe pointed out that it would rather have even a preliminary agreement with the state for Class III gaming, but in any event, would exercise its right to conduct Class II gaming if Class III were still up in the air when (and if) the Interior Department approved its land-into-trust application.

But if the state did agree to negotiate when it wasn't required to, would it have a duty to negotiate in good faith? And would starting negotiations trigger IGRA's 180-day time line? As Kathryn said in the Mashpee Enterprise story, these are questions that the state's attorneys likely were -- or should have been -- weighing. The only answer we have so far is the state's "thanks, but no thanks" response to the Tribe's request. Patrick's camp responded that any negotiations "would be purely hypothetical," making formal negotiations unproductive from the state's perspective.

Read the articles in which Kathryn is quoted in the
Cape Cod Times, and in the Mashpee Enterprise.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

We're Off to Drake Law School

We're off to the Drake Law Review/IMGL Gambling Law Symposium in Des Moines, Iowa. This should be an interesting gathering, with high-powered gaming attorneys, policymakers, and even a few professor-types like ourselves.

We'll follow up next week with our sense of how it all went down. Also, we'll have to post something on starts and stops in Massachusetts!


Violence and Gaming in Riverside County

The New York Times reported on violence on the Soboba Band's reservation in southern California, fueled, according to the tribe, by the Riverside County Sheriff's Department. Since December 2007, five tribal members have been killed in shoot-outs with the Sheriff's Department. The Sheriff's Department claims that crime has risen dramatically on the reservation since 2006, when the tribe cancelled its contract with the Sheriff's Department to provide law enforcement.

The tribe has implemented a policy requiring Sheriff's deputies to check in and travel with an escort on the reservation. The Sheriff's Department has asked the NIGC to close the tribe's casino, arguing that there is imminent danger to casino patrons, employees, and nearby residents.

In the meantime, responding to complaints from groups like Stand Up for California, the governor's office is investigating whether the security restrictions or the increase in violent crime violate the tribal-state compact.

Riverside County Sheriff Stanley Sniff accused the tribe of having a "culture of violence" while tribal chair Robert Salgado charged that the Sheriff's Department was acting more like a 19th-century frontier cavalry.

Read more in the Times at Clash with Tribe Spurs Effort to Shut a Casino

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Monday, September 08, 2008

Abramoff Sentenced to 4 Years in Prison

On Thursday, former lobbyist Jack Abramoff was sentenced to four years in prison for tax violations and corruption offenses.

Abramoff, you'll recall, bilked tribes of millions of dollars. He played one tribe off another, promising access to and influence over federal policymakers while charging exorbitant fees and chortling over how easy it was to dupe tribal officials. Of course, Abramoff's unethical and illegal acts extended well beyond his interactions with tribes. His relatively short sentence -- under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, he could have received 11 years in prison -- was recommended by the prosecutor based on Abramoff's extensive cooperation in the investigation. In fact, the government recommended only 39 months, while tribal leaders from the Saginaw Chippewa in Michigan and the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana urged the judge to issue a much harsher sentence.

Ironically, or perhaps fittingly, the man who called his tribal clients "monkeys," "troglodytes," "morons," and "the stupidest idiots in the land," begged the court for mercy, saying, "My name is the butt of a joke."

Read here in the New York Times.

We wrote an article on the implications of the Abramoff scandal on federal campaign finance law and tribal political participation in the Gaming Law Review. Find information on it here,, and as with anything else we’ve written, please feel free to contact us about the article.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Another Challenge to NIGC's Indian Lands Determination

In Iowa, the state Attorney General has filed suit in federal court to stop the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska from operating gaming in Carter Lake, IA.

Late last year, the NIGC had determined that the Carter Lake parcel, located near Council Bluffs, qualified as "restored lands" under IGRA's exceptions to the general prohibition against gaming on newly acquired lands. Iowa officials are relying in part on the fact that the NIGC reversed itself: in October 2007, it determined that the lands were not restored, but in December 2007, it reversed that decision. The state also is concerned about the impact on commercial gaming in Council Bluffs: according to Council Bluffs Mayor Tom Hanafan, tribal gaming is less desirable than state-sanctioned gaming that "all pay taxes."

That's a revenue-sharing alert, folks.

Complicating matters: The Secretary's new "Section 20" regulations that limit the reach of the restored lands exception.

Both NIGC decisions are available from the NIGC's web site,
here. Read more at "Miller Files Lawsuit Over Gaming Legality."

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