© 2004- The Press Democrat
BYLINE: GUY KOVNER
The tribes are among 23 statewide engaged in
a movement critics call ``reservation shopping,'' pushing to buy land and
to establish gaming halls as much as 140 miles from their reservations.
``Right now we have an explosion of tribes seeking off-reservation
casinos,'' said Cheryl Schmit of Penryn,
director of Stand Up For California, a gambling watchdog. Schmit
said the attempts by
Among the North Coast tribes seeking off-reservation casinos are the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians, which wants to convert a cardroom in the East Bay city of San Pablo into a Nevada-style gambling hall, and the Federated Indians of GratonRancheria, which was re-established as a tribe in 2000, is landless, and has proposed a casino at the western edge of Rohnert Park.
In addition, the Ukiah-based Guidiville
Band of Pomo Indians and Scotts Valley Band
of Pomo Indians, based in Kelseyville,
have tried and failed to secure land in Solano and Contra Costa counties,
and the Upper Lake Band of Pomo Indians
lost a legal bid for a casino in
The Robinson Rancheria
of Pomo Indians of Nice in
Tony Cohen, a
Michael Derry, head of economic development for the GuidivillePomos,
defended the tribe's unsuccessful bids for land in
Despite the Indians' arguments, the issue has grabbed
the attention of leaders in
In a June 10 letter to Interior Secretary Gale Norton, Hastert and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, warned that ``reservation shopping'' threatens to upset the ``delicate balance between state and tribal interests'' that Congress intended to maintain in authorizing Indian gaming under limited conditions.
Hastert is wary of off-reservation casino proliferation
With 109 federally recognized tribes,
Although none has yet succeeded, the 23 tribes seeking off-reservation casinos could boost the total by about 50 percent.
Others must navigate a legal and political thicket that some Indian law experts say is virtually impenetrable, although critics fear the tribes and wealthy casino sponsors will find ways through the complex federal Indian gaming laws.
To put a casino on newly acquired land, tribes must obtain a federal court ruling, an act of Congress or approval by both the Interior secretary and the governor.
Tribal members and their advocates say concern over the spread of casinos is overblown.
Cohen said the door is essentially closed to most
off-reservation gaming proposals. With the law and politics ``stacked against
them,'' Cohen said few tribes are likely to succeed, other than
the two in
Some blame investors
Nelson Rose, a
``There's a lot of money out there,'' Rose said.
Critics call the off-reservation casino proposals the ``unintended consequences'' of Proposition 1A, the ballot measure approved by 65 percent of voters in 2000 allowing tribes to operate Nevada-style casinos.
Fred Jones, an Auburn attorney for a faith-based group,
the California Coalition Against Gambling
Expansion, attributed the proposition's passage to ``white guilt'' over
the historic mistreatment of Indians.But
neither voters nor lawmakers envisioned the current campaign to move casinos
from rural reservations to cities and other strategic sites, Jones said.One
of those who says it's premature to set limits
on casino expansion is
``It would not be appropriate to draw a line in the sand,'' Kolkey told reporters three weeks ago.
Kolkey acknowledged the ``traditional justification'' for granting tribal gambling monopolies under federal law assumed the casinos would be on reservations, typically in a ``remote location.''
But each case, he said, would have to be judged on its own merits.
News researchers Michele Van Hoeck and Teresa Meikle contributed to this story. You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or email@example.com.
OFF-RESERVATION CASINO PROPOSALS
Off-reservation casino proposals include six
* Federated Indians of GratonRancheria -- Landless tribe restored by act of Congress in 2000. Proposed ``world-class'' casino, reservation near Sears Point last April, shifted site to western edge of Rohnert Park in August, prompting attempted recall of four City Council members.
* Lytton Band
of Pomo Indians -- Landless tribe
restored in 1991, barred from settlement in
Band of Pomo Indians -- Landless tribe
based in Ukiah. Casino bids rejected by
* Robinson Rancheria
of Pomo Indians -- Undertaking $7.5 million
expansion of casino on rancheria
in Nice in