BIA approves four California gaming compacts

The Bureau of Indian Affairs has approved four Class III gaming compacts in California that are the subject of an upcoming referendum.

The approval means the compacts will become legally effective once they are published in the Federal Register. That's expected to happen sometime this week.

The agreements were submitted to the BIA by California Secretary of State Debra Bowen. She is the official who is overseeing the February 5, 2008, election that will put the compacts before state voters.

Even if voters reject the compacts, publication in the Federal Register would appear to take precedence. In a similar case involving the Oneida Nation of New York, the BIA refused to rescind its approval of the tribe's gaming compact even though the compact was invalidated at the state level.

News reports described the BIA's approval as sudden and unexpected. But Bowen submitted the four compacts on the same day as a less controversial one for the Yurok Tribe. That compact was already published in the Federal Register.

Under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the BIA has 45 days to review a gaming compact and can approve or reject the compact. Otherwise, the compact is considered "deemed approved" to the extent that it doesn't violate federal law. That's what happened with the four California compacts.

Get the Story:
Gaming compacts win federal OK ahead of statewide vote (Copley News Service 12/1)
Will casino votes count? (The Palm Springs Desert Sun 12/2)
Statewide vote on expansion of gambling at four Indian casinos potentially short-circuited (The North County Times 12/2)
State's mega-casinos face first voter test On The Ballot (The Santa Rosa Press-Democrat 12/2)