President Reagan signed legislation Monday that provides for joint regulation of gambling on Indian lands by Indian tribes, the states and the federal government.
The bill establishes a National Indian Gaming Commission within the Interior Department to monitor bingo, lotto and other forms of gambling on Indian reservations.The legislation also will permit casino gambling, horse and dog racing and jai alai on reservations if the tribes reach agreement with their respective states on the operation of such games. The bill requires the states to negotiate "in good faith" and allows the tribes to take the matter to federal court if no agreement is reached.
It appears the new law will have no immediate effect on Utah. Richard Kontz, deputy director of the Commission to Accelerate Navajo Development Opportunities, said the Navajos don't allow gambling on the reservation now and have no plans to do so. He said a couple of attempts have been made to get gambling authorized, "but they never went forward with it for different reasons." The tribe will have to evaluate the new law before deciding whether to change its plans.
A spokesman for the Paiute Tribe of Utah said the tribal council has not entertained the idea of allowing any form of gambling. And a Ute official from the Uintah-Ouray Reservation who declined to identify himself said that although the tribe is pleased that the law passed, it hasn't discussed legalizing gaming.
Several disputes between tribes and states over gambling on reservations have reached the Supreme Court in recent years as Indians have sought financial gain from their special legal status and have tried to compensate for a sharp reduction in federal aid.