Donald Trump once claimed IGRA and tribal casinos were illegal

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump rallies with his supporters. Photo from Twitter

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump once tried to stop the entire tribal casino industry by claiming the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 was unconstitutional and discriminatory.

Trump filed a lawsuit in federal court in May 1993, IVN News reported. Defendants included the Interior Department and the National Indian Gaming Commission and officials at both agencies.

Not surprisingly, the case didn't get very far although it did garner headlines for Trump and his own casino enterprise. The federal courts have repeatedly ruled that Congress can pass special laws affecting tribes and tribal gaming has grown to a $28.5 billion industry.

Still, the setback didn't stop Trump from attacking tribes, as IVN News points out. In October 1993, he told the the House Subcommittee on Native American Affairs that the Indian gaming industry was going to be overrun by organized crime, a claim that hasn't panned out. He also made racially charged remarks about the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation of Connecticut, whose casino was the largest in the world at the time.

"Well, you go up to Connecticut, and you look," Trump said on Capitol Hill. "Now, they don't look like Indians to me."

Trump kept the crusade going. The following year, he took the credit for a provision in a bill that would have imposed a 34 percent tax on tribes and their casinos.

"It's about time this happened," Trump told The New York Times in September 1994. "Fifty governors in 50 states oppose Indian gambling. It's unfair to everyone involved. Even the vast majority of Indians don't see anything coming to their pockets."

But Republican leaders at the time said Trump wasn't the source of the provision, the Times reported. It never became law and the real estate mogul eventually started working with tribes although those relationships were far from successful.

Get the Story:
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