Ohio Senators George Voinovich (R) and Mike DeWine (R) are pushing a bill to limit the expansion of the Indian gaming industry. S.1518 would stop tribes from operating Class III casinos in states where "commercial" gambling is illegal.
The Eastern Shawnee have been trying for years to build casinos on what they say is their ancestral land in Ohio. Along with the Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma, they have filed claims to land in the state, and an Eastern Shawnee tribe from Seneca, Missouri, has proposed casino resorts in several Ohio counties.
Under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, a state compact is not required if a tribe can prove rights to ancestral land in federal court. Voinovich’s bill would amend the act to require a compact.
"It’s very difficult for a tribe like those who want to come to Ohio," Voinovich told the Associated Press. "What we’re doing is adding a couple more nails to the coffin."
Louisiana Sen. David Vitter is sponsoring a separate bill banning tribes from placing casinos on land where they have "little or no connection.’’ Under this legislation, tribes based in other states would be prohibited from building in Ohio.
Terry Casey, a spokesman for the Eastern Shawnee, said the bill isn’t necessary because federal restrictions are already in place. "The idea that any and all of the 562 federally recognized tribes can just go any place in the country reservation shopping is ridiculous," Casey added.
NOT DEAD YET
The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe of New York and Empire Resorts are giving it one more shot: they’re reviving plans to build a $500 million Las Vegas-style gambling operation at the Monticello Raceway.
Four years ago, the New York legislature authorized Gov. George Pataki (R) to negotiate deals for three Indian casinos in the Buffalo-Niagara Falls area and three in the Catskills. A casino is in the works near Buffalo, but after years of Congressional opposition, dashed deals, court rulings and disputes over tribal sovereignty, there is still no casino in the Catskills.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs approved the acquisition of the Monticello Raceway for off-reservation gaming in 2000. Mohawk tribal leaders say that because of this, the casino plan does not require state or congressional approval, only that of Gov. Pataki.
According to The New York Times, Chiefs Barbara A. Lazore and Lorraine M. White told Gov. Pataki that the tribe was willing to comply with demands from the state. It would resolve sales tax issues, pay Sullivan County $15 million a year in impact fees and give the state up to 25 percent of slot machine revenue.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has warned the Jamul Indian Village that the tribe’s proposed casino, announced last week, is in breach of the tribal-state compact before it has even been built, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
A letter to tribal leaders stated that the proposed 30-story casino tower might violate the compact’s requirement to mitigate the impact on surrounding communities. Jamul Chairman Leon Acebedo said he was anxious to meet with Schwarzenegger’s office to discuss the concerns.
The Glenn County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 against the casino proposed by the Grindstone Rancheria of Wintun-Wailaki Indians, the Chico Enterprise Record reported. The tribe has a purchase option for a 280-acre parcel on I-5 and needed the board’s support to get the land placed in trust, and the approval of Gov. Schwarzenegger in order to build a casino there.
Glenn County has the highest unemployment rate in the state. While supervisors agreed that a casino would have a positive economic impact, the "no" vote hung on fears of an increase in bankruptcy, crime and alcoholism. The county may still see a casino if the Grindstone Indians decide to build on their reservation in Elk Creek.
Sheriff’s deputies in Fresno County kicked gamblers out of the Mono Wind Casino on August 24 and shut it down in order to collect a judgment against the casino, KFSN News reported.
The Big Sandy Band of Western Mono Indians, who have been ordered to pay $700,000 to former manager Michael Troilo, owns the casino. The tribe forked over $175,000 and closed the casino. But a judge ruled that if the casino reopens, the tribe would have to pay the rest of the money.