A sign on the Pamunkey Reservation in Virginia marks the grave of Powhatan, who was a leader of the Pamunkey people during the 1600s. Photo: Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program

Pamunkey Tribe connected to acquisition of land by gaming company

The recently recognized Pamunkey Tribe is moving full steam ahead with plans for a gaming facility in Virginia.

The tribe is working with B&B Amusement, a gaming firm based in Illinois, The Newport News Daily Press reported. That firm recently acquired about 610 acres for a possible casino.

“Now that we have made our plans public, we intend to aggressively pursue land acquisitions that make sense for us and that can help bring our larger economic plans to fruition,” Chief Robert Gray told the paper. “The Pamunkey people are patient, but we are ready to put this into high gear.”

The land in question is located along Interstate 64, a major highway that leads to Richmond, the state capital. The site is about 40 miles driving distance from the Pamunkey Reservation but only about 11 miles as the crow flies.

The distance is a potential factor in the land-into-trust process. Gaming regulations adopted during the George W. Bush era typically force tribes to acquire land within 25 miles of their headquarters, in areas where a significant percentage of citizens live or in places that are a "commutable distance" from headquarters.

Another factor is the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar. According to the ruling, the BIA can place land in trust only for tribes that were "under federal jurisdiction" in 1934.

The Pamunkeys didn't complete the acknowledgment process until 2016, long after that date. Legal challenges have slowed other newly recognized tribes as they seek to acquire homelands, with delays of about 10 years appearing to be the norm in the post-Carcieri era.

But that isn't the only hurdle. Class III games like slot machines and card games are not legal in Virginia so the tribe would be restricted to Class II games like bingo and electronic forms of bingo.

Lawmakers are considering plans to authorize Class III-style games, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. If that goes through, the tribe would be able to negotiate a compact with the state to offer the same types of games.

The parcels at issue were purchased in February by "TONARE LAND LLC," according to New Kent County property records. The address of the firm is the same as B&B Amusement's in Illinois, The Daily Press reported.

The tribe is still looking at other sites for the casino, Chief Gray told the paper.

Read More on the Story:
Pamunkey Indian Tribe associates buy New Kent land for possible resort, casino site (The Newport News Daily Press April 22, 2018)

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