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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of Oct 30 - Nov 5, 2002

Election 2002

Proposition One: 
To bet or not to bet?

Express Staff Writer

Proposition 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.

Essentially, 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.

It would 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 their reservations.

The state’s Indian tribes and their legal representatives to create a clear legislative provision for video-machine gambling on their lands put the initiative forth.

Some 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.

The state’s 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 operations.

Specifically, 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.

After the 10-year agreements have expired, they would be renogotiated.

Opponents 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.

The tribes have maintained that their gaming activities provide thousands of jobs, financial security for tribes, tax revenues that benefit all Idaho residents.

Voter 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.

Voter 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.



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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.