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Wednesday, July 13, 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. On June 13, 2011, DOI determined the regulation to be satisfactory and withdrew earlier departmental guidance, which had been issued before the regulation had become final. The guidance addressed how the DOI handled tribal applications for off-reservation land acquisitions for gaming. It had elaborate requirements for a tribe to satisfy with respect to applications for gaming facilities not within commutable distances from the tribe’s reservation.

In the 111th Congress, two bills were enacted with gaming prohibitions in connection with landinto- trust acquisitions: (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.

Legislation in the 112th Congress includes S. 771, the Tribal Gaming Eligibility Act, which requires tribes to satisfy new standards before newly acquired lands may be found to be eligible for IGRA gaming on the basis of a land claim settlement, an initial reservation, or restoration of lands. Other bills providing for federal recognition of tribal status or taking land into trust include explicit provisions relating to gaming. Among them are H.R. 27, the Lumbee Recognition Act; H.R. 475, the Fountainhead Property Land Transfer Act; H.R. 783/S. 379, the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Recognition Act; H.R. 1250/S. 675, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act; H.R. 1991, the Cocopah Lands Act; S. 617, the Elko Motocross and Tribal Conveyance Act, which transfers land into trust for the Te-moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians of Nevada; and S. 908, which provides for the addition of certain real property to the reservation of the Siletz Tribe.

Date of Report: June 28, 2011
Number of Pages: 19
Order Number: RL34325
Price: $29.95

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