Casino Stalker
Off-reservation casino fears mostly unrealized despite policy shift

It's still extremely difficult for tribes to open off-reservation casinos, despite a shift in policy from the Obama administration and concerns raised by non-Indians and opposition groups.

Since the passage of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, only three tribes have opened casinos on non-reservation land. Dozens more have tried but most have been rejected at the state level or by the Bureau of Indian Affairs under a controversial "guidance memorandum" issued during the Bush administration.

The Obama administration rescinded the memo a year ago and the BIA has moved forward on a handful of off-reservation casino proposals in California, New Mexico, Wisconsin and Washington. But so far, no tribe has cleared all the hurdles under the two-part determination section of IGRA.

Some newly recognized tribes and some tribes that were restored to federal recognition are seeking casinos in California, Massachusetts, New York and Washington. But so far, none of them have actually opened a gaming facility.

Since President Barack Obama took office in January 2009, the BIA has placed more than 158,000 acres in trust for tribes and individual Indians. But only seven applications out of 781 were related to gaming, McClatchy Newspapers reported.

Critics say tribes can change their mind and use newly acquired land for a casino. Since 1988, this situation has typically only occurred with a small number of tribes in eastern Oklahoma.

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In a new twist, Indian tribes are moving to open more casinos far from home (McClatchy Newspapers 7/5)