In May this year there were apparently 52 applications pending for new off-reservation tribal casinos, ranging from the Cayuga Nation in New York in the north-east to the Karuk Tribe in California in the south-west. Tomorrow House lawmakers will probably approve a measure that would halt the so-called ‘reservation shopping’ by tribes. The legislation to close a perceived loophole in the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) has already passed the House Resources Committee in July.
Richard Pombo (R-CA) is a very active politician now serving his seventh term in the US House of Representatives, representing California’s Eleventh Congressional District. In the past he has caused fury amongst environmentalists by being part of an attempt to rewrite the 1973 Endangered Species Act and supporting drilling in the Arctic. In February this year Richard Pombo was described by the Los Angeles Times as having the reputation for being ‘the most dangerous man in Congress.’
At present Richard Pombo is Chairman of the House Resources Committee, which has oversight and sets policies on natural resources, Indian Country and Indian gaming. California has been described as the hotbed of reservation shopping and a bill, introduced by Pombo, would make off-reservation gaming nearly impossible. The bill is opposed by the National Indian Gaming Association but has some support from tribes with casinos that could be affected by other tribes moving into their area.
Legislators will eventually have to reconcile significant differences between the Pombo bill and a separate measure in the Senate. The bill proposed by Senator John McCain (R-Ariz) to crackdown on reservation shopping was approved by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee last March. There is opposition from some senators over the attempts to amend IGRA, and the final outcome of the proposed legislation is still uncertain. (E-09.12.06)
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