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Regulation of Indian Gaming Worries Casinos

From Associated Press

The growth of Indian gaming in the United States poses a threat not only to Nevada’s lifeblood but could lead to federal regulation of all casinos, officials are warning.

“You have this wide-open thing here with nobody regulating it,” Reno gaming analyst Don McGhie said.

And Reno attorney Brian McKay, a former state attorney general, said that if the government follows the recommendation of Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and puts Indian casinos under the federal thumb, it could lead to including every casino in Nevada and New Jersey under its regulation as well.

“Nevada won’t want that. They aren’t going to leave Nevada out,” he said.

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The government asserted itself this month in Arizona, where FBI agents confiscated 300 slot machines at a reservation casino. The raid occurred just after new regulations went into effect prohibiting slots in Indian casinos without state approval.

Indians in other states plan to go to court to argue that states have no authority to regulate casinos on reservations. That prompted Inouye’s call for federal laws to oversee Indian gambling.

And William Eadington, director of gaming studies at the University of Nevada, Reno, said this gambling state could face a threat if states that approve reservation casinos start looking at applications from non-Indian sources.

“Once Indian casinos are established and successful, it will be much easier for legislatures to listen to others,” he said.

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Reservation gambling has not sprung up in Nevada, but it exists in California and Washington, two of the state’s key tourism markets.

Indian gambling also exists in Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Limited gaming on a Nebraska reservation is expected to expand to Iowa.

“I think the spread of gambling without regulation is just a recipe for disaster,” McKay said. “It’s certainly not in Nevada’s best interest. We’ll compete with anybody on a level playing field.

“The next year will be a crucial time for what happens.”

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