In North Dakota, proposed legislation that would allow voters to decide whether to amend the state’s constitution in order to open a maximum of six new state-owned casinos has reportedly been called “racist” by a Democratic legislator.
According to a report from the Associated Press news service, North Dakota State Senator Richard Marcellais, who is also a member of the Turtle Mountain Band Of Chippewa Indians, declared that the measure from Republican legislator Al Carlson was aimed at hurting the state’s aboriginal casinos.
“It’s racist,” Marcellais told the Associated Press. “I feel like going over there and knocking him through the window.”
The current constitution of North Dakota reportedly prevents legislators from authorizing “any game of chance, lottery or gift enterprise” but it does allow charitable gaming while also permitting the state of only 758,000 people to join multi-jurisdiction lotteries. But, superior federal laws sanction the running of casinos on tribal lands and there are currently over a dozen such venues in the Midwestern state including the Sky Dancer Casino And Resort in Rolette County from the Turtle Mountain Band Of Chippewa Indians and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Prairie Knights Casino And Resort near the small town of Fort Yates.
Carlson serves as Majority Leader in the North Dakota House Of Representatives and his proposed House Concurrent Resolution 3033 would reportedly use November’s primary elections in order to ballot residents on whether the state should be allowed to open the new casinos. The 68-year-old explained that his measure is not “anti-American Indian” but rather a way to establish casinos as “destination-oriented attractions” with any profits going to lessen or eliminate sales and corporate income taxes.
However, some lawmakers have reportedly declared that Carlson’s proposal is little more than pay-back for the millions of dollars the state has been forced to shell out in order to police protests connected with the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline project.
“It’s another direct consequence of the pipeline protests, no question,” Pam Anderson, a Democratic member of the North Dakota House Of Representatives, told the Associated Press.
While North Dakota supported the construction of the four-state oil pipeline, some of its tribes, who were concerned about water contamination issues, led protests against the $3.8 billion project and even established an encampment near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation that at times drew thousands of people from across the United States.
“The state of North Dakota has a limited market as far as gamblers [and] additional casinos would only cannibalize the market even further,” Patrick Packineau, General Manager for the Three Affiliated Tribes’ 4 Bears Casino And Lodge on the Fort Berthold Reservation, told the Associated Press.
The northern state’s latest Republican governor, Doug Burgum, was elected in November and used his first state-of-the-state address to promise a “fresh start” in relations with aboriginal peoples. He reportedly told the news service that North Dakota “should not be getting into the casino ownership business” while the Associated Press additionally explained that many lawmakers do not believe that Carlson’s measure will pass but fear that it could further damage Bismarck’s relationship with the tribes.