The Silver Wolf Casino on the Fort Peck Reservation in Montana. Photo from 500 Nations
The Senate Indian Affairs Committee held an oversight hearing on gaming this afternoon. A significant portion of the hearing focused on the proposed Tohono O'odham Nation off-reservation casino. Witnesses from both sides of the debate -- two tribal leaders, two lawmakers and one local official -- testified about the legal and political issues surrounding the controversial West Valley Resort, which remains mired in litigation and could be stopped altogether by H.R.1410, the Keep the Promise Act. The House passed the bill in September. Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), however, said the measure faces an uncertain path in the Senate due to legal decisions favoring the tribe and the city of Glendale's new-found support for the project. Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana), the chairman of the committee, also appeared wary of getting involved due to the high level of emotions displayed during the hearing. The rest of the hearing focused on federal oversight of gaming. Both the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the National Indian Gaming Commission exercise authority over certain aspects of the $28 billion tribal casino industry. The Government Accountability Office is in the midst of a study on gaming. The agency has traveled to Indian Country and will be making more site visits in the next several months. Finally, a panel of tribal leaders explained the benefits of casinos in their communities. Since the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act became law in 1988, tribes have funded health clinics, cultural centers, language programs and other services for their people. The hearing lasted about 2 hours and 5 minutes. Audio can be found on the Indianz.Com SoundCloud.
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