Shoshone-Bannock Tribes Denounce Bill That Would Violate State-Tribal Compact and Shut Down Indian Gaming in Idaho

Published February 16, 2017

 Bill targeting video gaming machines is introduced in Idaho House State Affairs Committee

FORT HALL, IDAHO — The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes denounced H127, a bill introduced last week that attempts to ban tribal video gaming machines thereby making such devices illegal in Idaho.

The Idaho House State Affairs Committee introduced the bill,which attempts to unlawfully amend the existing tribal gaming compact that was created through negotiations between the governments of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and the State of Idaho and which received affirmative approval by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

“This is the latest in a series of attacks on tribal gaming that anti-gaming and anti-Indian forces have mounted in Idaho since the passage of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in 1988,” said Blaine Edmo, Chairman of the Fort Hall Business Council. “Not only does this bill disregard the will of the people of Idaho, as expressed in the decisive outcome of Proposition One in 2002, but it also proposes to nullify many years of deliberation and negotiation that resulted in a successful and legally binding agreement between the state and the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes—an agreement which cannot be amended via statute. Sadly, this bill, if passed, will drag the state of Idaho and the tribes back into court, where the state already has an 0-3 record on this matter.”

Like the Idaho State Lottery , which deploys interactive, touch-screen machines, Tribal Video Gaming Machines are legal in Idaho. Both forms of governmental gaming have been deemed distinct from slot machines and commercial casino gambling. Tribal gaming has an increased level of scrutiny because tribes must comply with three layers of regulations—tribal, federal and state—as compared with the Idaho State Lottery, which regulates itself.  H127’s proposed actions would likely violate the Contracts Clause of the Idaho Constitution and contradict the outcomes of three separate lawsuits brought by the State of Idaho, state legislators and opposition groups, which were argued and lost before federal court and the Idaho Supreme Court.

“The people have spoken and the matter in question was decided years ago. It has been thoroughly evaluated and litigated with significant effort and expenditures on the part of both the State of Idaho and the tribes,” noted Chairman Edmo. “This misguided effort to unilaterally change a legally agreed upon compact without input from the tribes stands only to waste taxpayer dollars and everyone’s time.”

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