In Idaho, proposed legislation that would have banned tribal casinos from operating video gaming machines has reportedly been narrowly defeated following opposition from several aboriginal groups including the Coeur D’Alene Tribe and the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.
According to a report from the Idaho State Journal newspaper, the measure known as House Bill 127 was proposed earlier this month by Tom Loertscher, a Republican member of the Idaho House Of Representatives, and had been designed to bring the western state’s tribes into compliance with Idaho’s overall prohibition on casino gambling.
Under federal law, tribes are permitted to run their own gambling operations so long as the state in which they are located has already authorized such activities. Prolonged compact disagreements reportedly prompted four aboriginal groups in Idaho to successfully lobby for a ballot initiative that amended local laws and legalized on-reservation video gaming machines so long as these did not dispense coins or feature a lever.
If passed, Loertscher’s proposed legislation was to do away with this loophole by banning the slot-like machines but had reportedly drawn the ire of critics including the likes of Brian Kane, Assistant Chief Deputy for the Idaho Office Of The Attorney General, for not containing language sufficient to nullify the 2002 ballot initiative. Opponents moreover stated that the Utah-born representative’s measure could lead to multiple legal challenges as the previously-agreed gaming compacts Idaho holds with four casino-operating tribes do not contain termination provisions, which means that these would remain intact until replaced or renegotiated.
In the end, House Bill 127 reportedly failed to make it out of the Idaho House Of Representatives State Affairs Committee after a Thursday motion from Dustin Manwaring, a freshman Republican member of the Idaho House Of Representatives, downed the measure by eight votes to seven.
“Tribes have been operating casinos legally for more than 20 years and we’re proud to be a partner in making Idaho strong by creating jobs and supporting schools, local programs and infrastructure that benefit all Idahoans,” read a statement from James Allan, Tribal Council Chairman for the Coeur D’Alene Tribe. “It’s discouraging to see a bill like this come up but we are pleased that the committee members recognized the confusion that would be created by this bill and saw fit to keep it from moving any further.”
The Coeur D’Alene Tribe, which operates the Coeur D’Alene Casino Resort Hotel near the city of Worley, additionally stated that it is “open and willing to sit down and discuss problems in good faith negotiations” while Brent Crane, the Republican leader of the Idaho House Of Representatives, reportedly explained that he had voted against House Bill 127 due the current tribal-state compacts.
“I think the state of Idaho has recognized that the tribes are a good partner and we have entered into a contractual obligation with a partner via a contract or a compact,” Crane told the Idaho State Journal. “And what you don’t do in the middle of that compact, or that contract is, you don’t go to your partner and say “Hey, I’m going to change those rules and expect to have a good working relationship”.”