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Monday, February 14, 2011

Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA): Gaming on Newly Acquired Lands

M. Maureen Murphy
Legislative Attorney

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) (P.L. 100-497) generally prohibits gaming on lands acquired for Indians in trust by the Secretary of the Interior (SOI or Secretary) after October 17, 1988. The exceptions, however, raise the possibility of Indian gaming proposals for locations presently unconnected with an Indian tribe. Among the exceptions are land: (1) acquired after the SOI determines acquisition to be in the best interest of the tribe and not detrimental to the local community and the governor of the state concurs; (2) acquired for tribes that had no reservation on the date of enactment of IGRA; (3) acquired as part of a land claim settlement; (4) acquired as part of an initial reservation for a newly recognized tribe; and (5) acquired as part of the restoration of lands for a tribe restored to federal recognition.

During the latter half of 2010, the Department of the Interior (DOI) conducted a series of consultation sessions with Indian tribes focusing on whether the implementing regulation should be revised. The regulation was issued on May 20, 2008; it specifies the standards to be satisfied by tribes seeking to conduct gaming on lands acquired after October 17, 1988. The regulation includes limiting definitions of some of the statutory terms and considerable specificity in the documentation required for tribal applications. Previously, on January 4, 2008, DOI issued departmental guidance on off-reservation acquisitions for gaming and rejected more than 20 tribal applications for taking off-reservation land into trust for gaming purposes. DOI is also considering revising that guidance.

There were several bills in the 111
th Congress with gaming prohibitions in connection with federal recognition or land-into-trust legislation involving particular groups. Two were enacted; versions of the others may be reintroduced in the 112th Congress. Enacted were (1) section 2601(h)(4)(A) of P.L. 111-11, which prohibits class II and class III gaming on land which the provision transfers to be held in trust for the Washoe Tribe; and (2) P.L. 111-323, which prohibits gaming on federal land transferred to the Hoh Tribe.

Federal recognition bills with prohibitions or limits on gaming which were not passed by the 111
th Congress included S. 1011 and H.R. 2314 (Native Hawaiian governing entity); S. 1735 and H.R. 31 (Lumbee Tribe); S. 1178 and H.R. 1385 (Virginia Indian tribes); H.R. 326 (Cocopah Tribe); and H.R. 2040 (Samish Indian Nation). One general bill also did not pass: H.R. 2973, which would have required any tribe recognized by the federal government after its enactment to wait 25 years before being able to conduct gaming under IGRA. Also before the 111th Congress was S. 338, which would have modified the authority of the Lytton Rancheria to conduct gaming under IGRA.

Date of Report: February 2, 2011
Number of Pages: 14
Order Number: RL34325
Price: $29.95

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