Tribal reform bill on hold

Jul 25, 2006 4:56 AM

Legislation that would have imposed the strictest regulations on Indian gaming since Congress approved the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act has been put on hold.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. John McCain, head of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, would bar tribes from establishing casinos off their reservations.

McCain’s bill also would give the National Indian Gaming Commission — a federal agency that oversees Indian casinos — authority to enforce new reporting requirements and regulations.

The Arizona Republican introduced his bill because he said he feared a "backlash" against an industry that has been steadily growing, reaching $22.6 billion in revenues in 2005.

Indian gaming makes up 42 percent of the the $53.4 billion U.S. gaming industry, according to the Associated Press.

Because of the opposition to his bill, McCain needs to round up 60 votes to release the legislation from holds placed by Cochran and others. And he says time is running out on the Senate’s calendar, dimming prospects to reform Indian gaming this year.

Only four tribes currently have off-reservation casinos. But at least 44 others have applications pending at the Interior Department.