Friday, July 25, 2008

BIA limits distance for casinos

BIA limits distance for casinos
The Associated Press
Article Launched: 07/18/2008 06:08:15 AM MDT

SANTA FE—The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs has published a rule that says casinos should be located within 25 miles of a reservation headquarters.

But the rule has exceptions. Tribes may seek reservation status and permission to operate casinos on newly acquired land away from a reservation if tribes can show that a significant number of tribal members live nearby, can demonstrate a current connection to the property or if other tribal government facilities have been located on the land for at least two years before an application is filed for new reservation land.

In January, the U.S. Department of Interior turned down a request filed in 2004 by Jemez Pueblo to establish reservation land and build a casino near Anthony in southern New Mexico, 293 miles from the northern New Mexico pueblo.

The 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act allows off-reservation gambling only on trust land controlled by a tribe. But the Interior Department said in its Jan. 4 letter that the proposed trust land was too far from the pueblo to provide jobs to tribal members.

The new rule on casinos is meant to resolve questions about when tribes qualify for exceptions to the federal law. It comes after a series of interim checklists published since 1994.

The Fort Sill Apache Tribe of Oklahoma has been trying to open a casino near Deming in southern New Mexico on land purchased by the tribe in 1998 and taken into trust by the Interior Department for the tribe in 2002.

Federal law prohibits gambling on Indian lands taken into trust after October 1988, except under certain conditions. Exceptions allow the Interior secretary to authorize tribes to open casinos away from historic reservation lands if, after consulting local and tribal officials and a state's governor, the BIA determines the casino would be in the tribe's best interest and would not be detrimental to the community where it is located.

New Mexico tribes operate casinos under compacts with the state and pay a share of the casino proceeds to it in exchange for exclusive rights to offer certain forms of gambling such as poker and roulette. Horse racing tracks have casinos but are limited to slot machines.

As of June, there were 423 Indian gambling operations in the country, operated by 225 tribes in 28 states, according to the National Indian Gaming Association. These include scores of smaller bingo halls as well as large casinos with slot machines.


Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican,

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