Senator Feinstein: Too Many Casinos

Some critics of Indian gaming, such as California’s Senator Dianne Feinstein, think that it’s time to rein in the practice of putting land into trust for casinos.

Senator Feinstein: Too Many Casinos

California Senator Dianne Feinstein has made it known that she thinks there are too many Indian casinos, especially in the Golden State, where there are now 70 casinos.

There are 566 recognized federal tribes, and the senator thinks that the Obama Administration is entirely too devoted to making sure that as many as possible of them have casinos. So far 240 tribes operate 420 casinos of some sort.

“You reach a point where enough is enough,” Feinstein said to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee last November. She added, “My concern is that California tribes—some of them—are no longer content with casinos on Indian lands.” She was referring to a process that its critics refer to as “reservation shopping,” i.e. taking land that is far from the reservation, and petitioning to have it put into federal trust.

Nine tribes are currently attempting to do that in several states, including the Golden State.

The senator was most recently upset when the Bureau of Indian Affairs approved plans for a tribe to put land into trust 50 miles from its reservation, near Sacramento, against the wishes of local residents.

Congressman Tom McClintock says he’s happy to let the market decide how many casinos are enough. “As long as they’re complying with local laws, using their own money and not forcing anybody to do or buy anything against their will, I’ve got no objections.”

Ken Washburn, secretary of the interior, told the same senate panel last November, “What we are doing here is trying to ensure that tribes have home lands, so tribes can thrive as well,” he said. “A lot of acres, millions of acres, were taken from tribes, so their American dream is a little more cloudy than it is for the rest of America.”

Los Angeles attorney Dennis Ehling told the Miami Herald recent that the Obama Administration prompted something of a new gold rush by rescinding the Bush Administration’s requirement that an off-reservation casino could only be located at a “commutable distance” from its original reservation.

 “When they extend into these off-reservation places, they have to enter into the political realm again to get what they want,” he said. “And there’s always winners and losers when you do that.”