The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians want to open a casino in Indiana. Last week Indiana Senate members commented against the project. This week of April 27, 2015 makes the tribe feel more unwelcome. Carlin Yoder of the Indiana Senate stated the casino could harm the state financially. A resolution, SCR 54, was introduced on Monday to restrict the Pokagon Casino from being built without state approval – it passed the Senate unanimously on Tuesday with a debate consisting of one speaker orating for two minutes.

If passed by the house and signed by the governor, a plea is heading straight to the US Congress asking for them to become involved. It asks Congress to change Title 25, which says, “to provide that reservations and restored Indian lands within Indiana are not eligible for tribal gaming under the National Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988.”

Senator Tim Lanane asked to clarify what the resolution is asking. The answer is “the state would have authority to deny Indians a permit.”

Yoder stated the Pokagon casino could gain approval, but the tribe would need to go through the same casino approval process as non-Indian locations. It would need to bid and obtain one of the 10 licenses available. Yoder is not against the tribe  opening a casino; however, he feels they should undergo the same process and rules other gaming locations must pass through before they are given a license to build and operate a casino.

A spokesman for Pokagon’s tribe stated it was “the latest example of the government of Indiana not understanding the Pokagon Band’s tribal sovereignty and the federal government’s trust responsibility to the Indian nations.” The tribe also wants to obtain restoration of tribal lands from the state.

Indiana Senate Concurrent Resolution 54 now moves on to the Indiana House of Representatives. The House previously tried to attach an amendment to the riverboat casino bill (House Bill 1540) giving them the authority to approve or deny any state gaming compacts.

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