Cason rejects compact for off-reservation casino

Jim Cason, the Interior Department's associate deputy secretary and the acting assistant secretary for Indian affairs, rejected a gaming compact for an off-reservation casino on Friday.

In a letter [PDF], Cason told Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D) and Warm Springs Tribes President Ron Suppah that the rejection came because the off-reservation land is not yet in trust. He said the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act prohibits the approval of compacts "for the conduct of Class III gaming activities on lands that are not now, and may never be, Indian lands of such Indian tribe."

Cason acknowledged the department in the past has approved compacts for gaming activities on land not yet in trust. "However, on closer examination of the statute, we have concluded that the Secretary's authority to act on proposed compacts," he wrote, "is informed by Section 20 of IGRA."

Section 20 of IGRA [Text] bars gaming on lands acquired after 1988 except under four exceptions. It says nothing outright about approval or denial of compacts.

The Warm Springs Tribes does not qualify for an exception so it is going through another part of Section 20 known as the "two-part determination" process. Cason said the compact can be resubmitted when the process, which requires the governor's approval, is complete.

Get the Story:
Interior Department stays Columbia Gorge casino deal (AP 5/21)
U.S. balks at gorge casino plan (The Oregonian 5/21)
Casinos off reservations scrutinized (The Oregonian 5/22)