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Archive for Friday, January 27, 2006

Lawmakers would fight increased gambling

January 27, 2006

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— A proposal to let American Indian tribes build off-reservation casinos in Kansas would not garner strong support from the state's congressional delegation, raising doubts about its viability.

Sen. Sam Brownback and Rep. Todd Tiahrt - both Republicans - would oppose any efforts to expand gambling in the state and would work to prevent the federal government from approving such a plan, spokesmen for the lawmakers said Thursday.

They were responding to a letter from Matt All, chief counsel to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, which outlined a plan for three Kansas tribes to build new casinos near more populated areas and share revenue with the state.

Under the plan, the Sac & Fox Nation and the Kickapoo Tribe would build a casino in Wyandotte County, which includes Kansas City, Kan., and the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation would join the other two tribes to build a casino in Cherokee County, in southeastern Kansas.

Sebelius wants to expand gambling in the state as a way to raise money for public schools and other items in the state budget. The three tribes now operate casinos on reservations without sharing any revenue.

But even if the new plan passes the Legislature, it can't work without help from the federal government. That's because the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act prohibits gambling on land acquired after 1988.

The secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior, Gale Norton, could grant an exception to the ban, but would not do so without strong support from the state's congressional delegation. She also must consider whether the plan is in the best interests of the tribes and not detrimental to the surrounding communities.

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