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US rescinds policy against off-reservation casinos

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June 14, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC - The Interior Department said Tuesday it was rescinding a 2008 policy restricting Indian tribes from building off-reservation casinos. Larry Echo Hawk, the assistant secretary for Indian affairs at the department, said the rule was rescinded because it "was unnecessary and was issued without the benefit of tribal consultation."

The Interior Department will now consider new proposals for off-reservation casinos, but will still take into account the views of local residents and elected officials according to Mr. Echo Hawk.

I. Nelson Rose, a professor at Whittier Law School in California and an expert on gambling and the law, predicts the new policy will bring a new round of casino proposals because "There's just so much money involved," he said.

Here are some of the major casino projects that may soon be resurrected as a result of the policy change:

Mississippi Band of Choctaws (Mississippi)
The tribe has previously proposed building a $375 million casino and hotel on land 175 miles away.

Lac Du Flambeau Band of Chippewa Indians (Wisconsin) This tribe hopes to build a casino 304 miles away from its reservation.

Stockbridge-Munsee Tribe (Wisconsin)
This tribe has roots in New York and has sought for a decade to build a $560 million, Las Vegas-style casino in the Catskills. Their plan was rejected by the federal government in February.

St. Regis Mohawks (New York)
This tribe also wanted to build a casino in the Catskills.

Shinnecock Tribe (New York)
The Shinnecock has proposed building a casino in Nassau County, about 80 miles from its reservation in the Hamptons.

There are many more tribes in many more states that are expected to announce plans for new casinos away from their reservations. All plans must be reviewed and approved by the Interior Department and accepted by state and local governments.

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