your internet resource on facebook on twitter on Google+ on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Bush briefs sound alarm on Indian gaming regulation
Tuesday, November 25, 2003

The Bush administration on Friday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn two decisions favoring tribal interests, arguing that regulation of the $14 billion Indian gaming industry is at risk.

After receiving two extensions, the Department of Justice finally filed formal requests to review cases that originated in the 10th Circuit and the 8th Circuit. These circuits cover dozens of tribes in several Western and Northern Plains states.

But in asking the high court to take on the dispute, Solicitor General Ted Olson said Indian gaming throughout the the nation is threatened. Unless authorized by a gaming compact -- which some states refuse to negotiate -- tribes should not be allowed to operate certain casino machines, he wrote.

Even where tribes and state have come to an agreement, Olson urged the Supreme Court to get involved. Citing California, which has a 2,000-per-tribe cap on slot machines, he said tribes there could "circumvent" this limit by offering casino games that resemble slot machines.

Olson also argued that tribes in six states could "evade" revenue sharing provisions of their compacts by offering slot machine-like devices. A device that "looks like a slot machine, sounds like a slot machine, and plays like a slot machine," is a slot machine, he wrote in one of the petitions for review.

The dispute underscores long-running tensions over the types of machines tribes can offer at their casinos. Under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), tribes can offer Class II games, such as bingo and pull tabs, without state involvement. The more lucrative Class III games, like slot machines and card games, can only be operated pursuant to a tribal-state compact.

But thanks to technological advances, the line between Class II and Class III games is being blurred. Tribes are offering electronic bingo and pull tab products that resemble slot machines in look and feel.

At first, the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) considered the games to be Class III. Several courts concluded otherwise, forcing NIGC to go back to rethink how it classifies casino machines.

In the two petitions, government attorneys avoid discussing NIGC's game classification regulations, which were changed in the summer of 2002 to reflect the court decisions. Instead, they say the dispute centers on the relationship between two federal laws.

One is the Johnson Act, which prohibits the possession or use of "any gambling devices" on reservations. The other is IGRA, which carves out an exception to the Johnson Act so long as gaming is conducted pursuant to a tribal-state compact.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals addressed the issue in a case involving the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma, the Fort Sill Apache Tribe of Oklahoma and the Northern Arapaho Tribe of Wyoming. Federal officials threatened to prosecute the tribes for offering the "Magical Irish Instant Bingo Dispenser System," which NIGC considered to be Class III. None of the tribes have a valid compact with the state.

The 10th Circuit overturned NIGC and ruled that "Magical Irish" met IGRA's definition of a Class II device. The Johnson Act, the court said, doesn't matter in this instance. "If a piece of equipment is an IGRA Class II technologic aid, a court need not assess whether, independently of IGRA, that piece of equipment is a 'gambling device' proscribed by the Johnson Act," the court said in a unanimous April 2003 opinion.

"The court of appeals has eviscerated the Johnson Act as a tool for policing casino-style gaming in Indian Country," Olson wrote in response.

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals took its shot in a case involving the Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska, whose leaders were held in contempt and fined $4 million in an earlier dispute with state and federal officials. But they breathed a sigh of relief when the court excluded the "Lucky Tab II" machine from the Johnson Act and blessed it for play without an IGRA compact.

The decision, Olson wrote in response, "opens the door to circumvention of the Johnson Act's prohibitions on gambling devices, not only in Indian Country, but in the other places where the act applies, such as federal enclaves and possessions."

The Bush administration is asking the Supreme Court to accept the gaming cases and consolidate them into one appeal. Government lawyers took a similar approach with two trust relationship cases that were decided earlier this year.

The tribes involved in the cases would have time to file a response to the petitions filed on Friday. The Supreme Court would then decide whether it should take the cases or not. If the justices accept them, oral arguments would likely be heard next summer.

Relevant Documents:
Petition: U.S. v. Santee Sioux Tribe | Petition: U.S. v. Seneca-Cayuga Tribe

Lower Court Decisions:
U.S. v. Santee Sioux Tribe (March 20, 2003) | Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma v. National Indian Gaming Commission (April 17, 2003)

Relevant Links:
The Santee Sioux Tribe -
National Indian Gaming Commission -

Related Stories:
Supreme Court asked to rule on Indian gaming (09/30)
NIGC resolves status of company's casino machine (09/24)
Hogen says Okla. tribes skirting federal gaming law (05/19)
Appeals court says game is legal Class II (04/21)
Appeals court upholds Santee casino games (3/20)
Casino company loses Indian gaming suit (09/11)
Santee Sioux leaders found in contempt of court (6/22)

Copyright � 2000-2003 Indianz.Com
More headlines...

Latest Headlines:

Pro-tribal and pro-Trump? Choctaw citizen seeks voice in Congress
Doug George-Kanentiio: Remember the victims of My Lai massacre
Native Sun News Today: Three rez teams head to basketball finals
Jenni Monet: What the movement at Standing Rock gave the world
High Country News: Harassment pervades Bureau of Indian Affairs
Mary Annette Pember: Film looks at sterilization of Indian women
Secretary Zinke criticized for offering Japanese greeting at hearing
Red Lake Nation calls for removal of oil pipelines from reservation
Pamunkey Tribe announces plans for $700 million gaming facility
Indian students demand action to prevent violence at their schools
Cronkite News: Nationwide walkout a month after deadly shooting
YES! Magazine: Students explain why they want stronger gun laws
Former San Manuel Band leader aims to make history in California
Native Sun News Today: Oglala Sioux Tribe off to court on uranium
Mark Trahant: Ready for change? 11 Native candidates are running
Mary Annette Pember: Tribes take action to fight human trafficking
Conservative group claims victory in Indian Child Welfare Act case
Kiowa Tribe prepares to debut new casino with more in the works
Cherokee Nation set to break ground on gaming expansion project
Bill authorizes ball and dice games at tribal casinos in Oklahoma
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs convenes hearing on opioids
Republicans advance bill to prevent name changes at sacred site
Sentences handed down for child abuse on Pine Ridge Reservation
Housing Secretary Carson played role in buying $31K furniture set
Bill John Baker: Cherokee Nation takes lead in rewarding teachers
Native Sun News Today: Standing Rock youth are a big hit in D.C.
Elizabeth Cook-Lynn: Questioning a new 'Indian education' effort
YES! Magazine: Elders and warriors keep close watch on pipeline
Tulalip Tribes head to trial in closely-watched dual taxation case
Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians halts charitable bingo
Quapaw Tribe sees another setback with gaming bid in Arkansas
Winnebago Tribe sends basketball team to championships again
Indian lawmaker welcomes tribal delegation to Nebraska Capitol
Sen. Elizabeth Warren still faces Indian heritage questions, jokes
Native Sun News Today: Inmate learns lesson from brutal crime
Ivan Star Comes Out: I was raised to believe that God was White
Graham Lee Brewer: Attacks on Indian Child Welfare Act are real
Cronkite News: Students call for stronger gun control measures
Choctaw Nation welcomes Irish prime minister for historic visit
Agua Caliente Band opposes proposal to ban short term rentals
Indigenous game helps arrivals, new and old, preserve traditions
Tule River Tribe seeks local support for off-reservation casino bid
Nooksack Tribe scores as Trump administration recognizes council
Aquinnah Wampanoag citizen launches 2nd bid in Massachusetts
National Indian Gaming Association hosts big meeting in Vegas
Tim Giago: Native Americans are dying from diabetes every year
Arne Vainio: 'The doctor missed my cancer. How can I trust him?'
Jacqueline Keeler: Why reading Sherman Alexie was never enough
Albert Bender: Thought-provoking 'Hostiles' deserves to be seen
Cronkite News: Native family carries on traditions through dance
Mary Annette Pember: Falling short on protecting Native women
Rep. Cole seeks to put Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act in funding bill
Man from Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe accused in assault at casino
>>> more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.