Tribal Gaming’s complexities range from which games can be offered to what who is involved in their regulation. In the last year, there have been numerous documented cases of tribes attempting to build casinos hundreds of miles away from their people. The 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act allows for these off-reservation casinos, but in January the U.S. Dept of Interior denied a claim to build a casino 293 miles away from the reservation explaining the casino was too far to be of benefit to tribal members. Since that time, the Dept. of Interior has denied similar attempts over 10 times, which begs the question: Just how far off the reservation is permitted by law and how far is too far? Now it appears the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has an answer:
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.
With out question there will still be plenty of legal challenges, as tribes will attempt to meet the rule’s qualifications for off- reservation casinos. However, this ruling is encouraging as it helps to weave together a patchwork of rules and regulations that go back over 15 years. In a time when casino companies will approach any tribe to seek to expand their gambling business, and attempt to locate it anyplace they feel provides market support, its nice to see the BIA viewing the issue in more reasonable terms.