Idaho tribes headed to win on gaming
Facebook Twitter Email

A million-dollar campaign launched by two Idaho tribes appears to have paid off at the polls, with Proposition 1 to expand Indian gaming headed for passage.

The Nez Perce Tribe and the Coeur d'Alene Tribe pushed the initiative after compacts they negotiate with the state weren't approved by state lawmakers. Their initiative will ensure continued gaming on reservations, including the use of video gaming machines.

According to unofficial results, voters have approved Proposition 1 by a 57 percent to 43 percent margin.

The victory belied the obstacles the tribes have overcome. Attorney general Alan Lance, who has sought Supreme Court review of several Indian law victories but lost a key case in 2001, questioned the whether the initiative was constitutional.

The tribes responded by modifying the language of Proposition 1. Lance followed up with a non-binding legal review that softened his earlier stance on the issue.

Republican lawmakers and their allies, who have tried to impose taxes on the tribes, then launched a court challenge to prevent the initiative from appearing on the ballot. But they were handed defeat by the Idaho Supreme Court in late August in a ruling that said the suit was not ripe.

"This court should not interfere with the initiative process," one justice wrote.

The lawmakers still plan on disputing the legality of the effort once it becomes law. A challenge is likely in federal court.

More recently, the two tribes were recently battling claims that their initiative was a "North Idaho" issue. The Shoshone-Bannock Nation is also seeking to legalize video gaming machines but has chosen to affirm its rights through the court system.

The Nez Perce and Coeur d'Alene tribes already offer about 3,000 of the gaming machines at their casinos. They raised $3 million to support Proposition 1.

Relevant Documents:
Text of Indian Gaming Initiative (Idaho Secretary of State)

Relevant Links:
Coeur d'Alene Tribe -
Nez Perce Tribe -

Related Stories:
Tribes battle over Idaho gaming (11/1)
Support grows for Idaho's tribes (10/04)
Editorial: Republican hypocrisy (9/03)
Idaho tribes score another victory (8/29)
Idaho gaming foes promise court battle (8/29)
Idaho tribes fight legal challenge (6/18)
Idaho court takes tribal ballot case (6/12)
Idaho tribal initiative questioned (5/23)
Idaho gaming initiative certified (5/10)
Idaho tribes react to gaming suit (1/15)
Federal ruling may help tribes (12/4)
Idaho gaming pact may be revived (9/5)
Tribes pushing Idaho gaming initiative (8/17)
Idaho tribes change gaming initiative (8/2)
Idaho AG questions gaming initiative (7/13)