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Pombo Introduces Bill to End
Off-Reservation Indian Gaming

Washington, DC- After more than a year of Congressional hearings and public input, House Resources Committee Chairman Richard W. Pombo (R-CA) officially introduced legislation to stop the spread of off-reservation Indian gaming yesterday evening.  Click here to read the bill, H.R. 4893.

Off-reservation gaming is the practice of exploiting a loophole in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).  Some tribes attempt to acquire lands outside the borders of their reservation to establish a casino, typically close to large urban areas or tourist destinations. H.R. 4893 amends Section 20 of IGRA, to close this loophole and give local communities control over new casino proposals from newly-recognized or landless tribes. 

"Off-reservation gaming is a nationwide concern and I knew we had many different opinions and concerns to keep in mind," said Pombo "By working openly with Indian Country and the American public over the last year, I believe I have crafted the strongest bill possible.  This will put local communities in control and encourage economic opportunities for tribes at the same time."

Pombo held three hearings on off-reservation gaming last year, including one field hearing in California where more than 10 local officials and tribal leaders testified on the effects of off-reservation gaming.  The state ranks at the top of the nation's list with as many as 40 proposals to establish off-reservation casinos.

The Chairman circulated for the public two discussion drafts of his bill last year. The Resources Committee will hold a hearing in the near future to review the bill.

Chairman Pombo's Off-Reservation Gaming bill will:

  1. Completely repeal the so-called 'two part determination' in Section 20 of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act ("IGRA"), the part of IGRA that has authorized 'reservation shopping'.  This means that under no circumstances can a tribe that already has land into trust that is eligible for gaming acquire any more land not contiguous to the reservation and use it for gaming, without exception.  This puts a permanent end to 'reservation shopping' once and for all.
  2. Give local communities and state officials a seat at the table to decide whether or not a casino proposed by a new or landless tribe should open in their town or city.
    1. The tribe and local community must enter into a memorandum of understanding under which the tribe must pay the community for mitigation of direct effects of the casino on infrastructure and services such as transportation, public safety, and other costs.
    2. The tribe must pay for an advisory referendum in the local county or parish that currently holds jurisdiction over the land on whether they would like to have a casino or not.  The result of this referendum would then be forwarded to the Department of Interior, along with the completed Environmental Impact Statement, prior to Department review and determination of whether or not the land should be taken into trust.
    3. The Secretary of Interior must certify that the facility would not be detrimental to the surrounding community or nearby Indian tribes.
    4. The Secretary must certify that the facility is in the best interest of the surrounding community.
    5. The Governor of the State must concur with the Secretary's findings.
    6. The State legislature must concur with the Secretary's findings.
    7. Nearby Indian tribes must concur with the Secretary's findings.
    8. Only after having cleared all of these hurdles will land be placed into trust for a new or landless tribe that wants a casino.
    9. A tribe may only propose to locate its facility on lands where the tribe has its primary historic, geographical, social and temporal nexus with the lands.
  3. Ban any attempts to establish off-reservation casinos outside of the tribe's current U.S. state.
  4. Allow for the creation of 'Indian Gaming Zones', where one tribe can host a gaming facility for another tribe on already existing reservation land where gaming is allowed.





Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM  Pacific

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