To bet or not to bet?
Express Staff Writer
One, a statewide ballot initiative called the Indian Gaming and Self
Reliance Act, will ask all Idaho voters whether they want to redefine
state policy to explicitly allow certain types of machine-operated
gambling on American Indian lands.
voter approval of Proposition One would establish that state policy
shall allow Indian tribes to operate video gaming machines on their
reservations for public use, with precise restrictions on the specific
type of machine and the number of machines each tribe may maintain.
also establish a requirement that Indian tribes that operate gambling
facilities must contribute 5 percent of the net profits gained from
those operations to local educational programs and schools on or near
Indian tribes and their legal representatives to create a clear
legislative provision for video-machine gambling on their lands put the
tribes in the state have been operating gaming facilities on their
reservations since 1992, when the state determined that certain types of
Indian gaming were permissible. The decision was made under provisions
of the Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, which gave states
limited power to negotiate gaming contracts to established Indian tribes—on
Indian lands only.
provision of gaming contracts with Indian tribes has been challenged by
some opponents who charge the procedure violates the state Constitution,
prompting the tribes to seek a new definition of state gaming laws that
permits them to maintain—and to a limited extent expand—their gaming
the proposition decrees that the state can enter into 10-year agreements
with tribes that allow them to keep all legal gaming machines they
possessed before Jan.1, 2002, and to add 25 percent of that number to
their total over the 10-year period. However, any annual increase in the
number of machines operated by a tribe cannot exceed 5 percent of the
number it possessed prior to Jan. 1, 2002.
10-year agreements have expired, they would be renogotiated.
of the initiative—including some elected officials in the state
Capitol—have generally claimed that Idaho’s Indian gaming activities
are technically illegal, and if allowed to continue could proliferate
into Nevada-like gambling industries.
tribes have maintained that their gaming activities provide thousands of
jobs, financial security for tribes, tax revenues that benefit all Idaho
approval of the proposition would in essence allow Indian tribes in
Idaho to keep the gaming facilities they have, and to expand those
facilities only in a limited, regulated fashion.
rejection of the proposition would leave the tribes without a clear
legal mandate in support of their gaming operations, and would open the
door to renewed legal challenges of Indian gaming in Idaho.