Casino Stalker | New York
Obama considers off-reservation gaming policy

The Obama administration is "rethinking" prior policy affecting off-reservation gaming, a senior Bureau of Indian Affairs official said.

A decision whether to change course will be made "fairly soon." "It's an important issue. It's a controversial issue and they're rethinking it," George Skibine, the acting principal deputy assistant secretary for Indian affairs, told The Wall Street Journal.

The Bush administration made a number of changes that make it nearly impossible for tribes to acquire land away from existing reservations. Gaming compacts can be rejected if they refer to sites that are not in trust, land-into-trust applications can be rejected for sites that aren't within a "commutable distance" of a reservation and off-reservation casinos can be rejected even if supported by state and local governments.

A potential change in policy already has some members of Congress worried. Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada), Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) and Sen. John Ensign (R-Nevada) are urging Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to maintain existing restrictions.

"While Indian gaming is permitted on Indian lands and in accordance with state and federal laws, we have serious concerns about the recent practice of tribes and municipalities seeking advantageous gaming opportunities on lands that are not traditionally tribal lands. This is an abuse of the land into trust process and violates the spirit" of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the letter stated..

Get the Story:
Tribal Casino Rules Revisited (The Wall Street Journal 9/21)
Senators' views could hurt casino chances (The Middletown Times Herald-Record 9/19)