Press Releases

Feinstein, Kyl: Stop Casino Reservation Shopping

Measure requires Native American tribes to demonstrate a modern and ancestral connection to lands where new casinos are built

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) today introduced The Tribal Gaming Eligibility Act, legislation clarifying the standards that must be met before new casinos can be opened on newly or recently acquired Indian lands.

In the last decade, the Department of the Interior has received dozens of applications from tribes seeking to build casinos on lands that are hundreds, or even thousands of miles away from where they live today.

The Feinstein/Kyl legislation ends this practice of reservation shopping by requiring that tribes only open casinos on trust land acquired after the passage of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 if the tribe meets certain conditions or can:

  • Demonstrate a substantial modern connection to the land; and
  • Demonstrate a substantial aboriginal or ancestral connection to the land.

“Enough is enough when it comes to reservation shopping,” said Senator Feinstein.
“The fact is that some tribes have abused their unique right to operate casinos and have ignored the intent of Congress by taking land into trust miles away from their historical lands.  This is done simply to produce the most profitable casino and the greatest number of potential gamblers, often with little regard to the local communities.”

“The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was originally intended to promote tribal economic development and self-sufficiency -- not to enable tribes to become gambling enterprises that constantly expand to new casino locations.” said Senator Kyl.

California has become ground zero for tribal casino construction.  There are presently 58 Las Vegas-style casinos across the state from the Oregon border in the north to the Mexican border in the South.

In 2006 the California Research Bureau compiled a report on the effects of casinos on communities.  The report found that casinos increase violent crime and gambling addiction, strain local government budgets, increase traffic congestion and increase personal bankruptcies. 

“Local governments and families have expressed growing concern about these casinos and about reservation shopping.  Any tribe seeking to take land into trust for gaming should demonstrate a substantial direct connection to the land before a casino is placed in a community’s backyard,” Senator Feinstein added.