Pamunkey Indian Tribe may gain federal recognition, MGM proponents resist

The Pamunkey Indian Tribe consists of 207 members. The tribe is also one that claims Pocahontas as an ancestor. In recent months the tribe has worked with the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs to become recognized as a federal tribe. It would be the first Virginia tribe to receive the designation. This approval would provide several benefits not only righting some wrongs, but also provide education, health care, and housing funds.

It is a good designation for the Tribe; however, there are fears from MGM casino giant that the tribe could earn the right to start a casino. Virginia has historically opposed gambling in the state.  MGM’s National Harbor casino, expected to open by mid-2016 is just across from Alexandria, Virginia on the Potomac River in Oxin Hill, Maryland.  The location was chosen not only to serve the D.C. area, but to draw in gamblers from Virginia. If the Pamunkey tribe do wish to operate a casino it would take the clientele MGM hopes to gain. For now the tribe has not made any statements that they would pursue a casino if their designation is changed.

Several groups have voiced opposition to the designation including “Stand Up for California and MGM National Harbor (Perkins Coie, LLP)”, and industry trade groups related to convenience stores and petroleum products. The MGM documnet of opposition was submitted in July and contains 39 pages. The comments can be found on the Washington Post website.