Tribes oppose reservation ‘shopping’

Jun 12, 2007 12:26 AM

The federal government is moving to restrict the expansion of Indian casino gambling on non-Indian lands. The effort is garnering support from a surprising corner — Indian tribes that have become wealthy from casinos on reservations.

Chad Hills, gambling analyst for Focus on the Family Action, said Native American casinos have been legal since 1988. But within the last decade, some tribes have laid claim to land they don’t own.

"Tribes are looking to relocate to states that allow Las Vegas-style casinos or to airports and major urban areas," Hill said.

The practice is called "reservation shopping," and the U.S. Department of the Interior is proposing regulations to crack down on it.

Hills said the biggest opponents of reservation shopping are other gambling tribes.

"Tribes with existing casinos do not want other tribes to open casinos that would be in competition," Hills added.

Congress tried, but failed, to pass bills last year that would have banned reservation shopping. Gambling opponents are calling for a congressional investigation of the practice.

"We would like to see tribal gambling put in check," Hills said. "We would like an investigation conducted -- an impact study done -- to assess whether there is corruption and what impact Indian casinos are having on tribal families, states and communities."

Hills is calling on Congress to create a panel similar to the National Gambling Impact Study Commission of the 1990s, on which Focus on the Family Chairman Dr. James C. Dobson served as a commissioner.