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Lawmakers Consider Possibility of Two Tribes Gaming on One Site

Two American Indian tribes operating casinos on a single reservation: It’s a concept being weighed in Washington, D.C.

Federal lawmakers are considering changes to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, a 1988 law that is a foundation of the Indian gaming industry. One change in the draft legislation would make things easier for one American Indian band to invite another band to operate a casino on its reservation.

County Supervisor Dianne Jacob traveled to Washington earlier this month to speak out in favor of tribes getting together, a strategy she calls casino consolidation.

In San Diego County alone, Jacob told lawmakers, the Indian gaming industry employs 13,000 people and has annual revenues of $1.5 billion.

Jacob told lawmakers that the Ewiiaapaayp Band of Kumeyaay Indians, which doesn’t have a casino, hopes to open one on the reservation of the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians near Alpine. Viejas operates one of the older casinos in the county. Previously the Viejas and Ewiiaapaayp bands were at odds, with the Ewiiaapaayp band planning to build a casino on Indian clinic land between Interstate 8 and the Viejas reservation. The deal behind the joint casino is viewed as a compromise arrangement.

Jacob also said the Jamul Indian Village, which does not have a casino, could use the same strategy to put its casino on the land of another tribe. The Jamul band has proposed a 30-story casino/hotel complex on its reservation in Jamul , a plan Jacob opposes.

Jacob said casino consolidation would be a good alternative to the Jamul plan, but Leon Acebedo, chairman of the Jamul tribe, issued a statement expressing concerns about leaving the reservation, and critical of “reservation shopping.”

Relations between Jacob and the Jamul band have been frosty. Jacob has long opposed a Jamul casino, saying 97 percent of Jamul residents do too. The Jamul Indian Village on Nov. 8 issued a statement critical of Jacob and their reception by county government. That follows a September statement criticizing unnamed authorities that have blocked the casino’s progress.

Could a Viejas-Ewiiaapaayp joint venture happen , and could it come together easily , without an act of Congress? That’s not clear.

Frank Riolo, chief executive of Viejas Enterprises, said a Viejas-Ewiiaapaayp casino would not require a change in federal law. However, Riolo said a change in the law would offer “some opportunities to approach it in a different fashion.” But he didn’t elaborate.

He said Viejas was “moving forward” with the joint venture, which could be a few years away.

A published report in early in November indicated the Bureau of Indian Affairs had concerns about approving the Viejas-Ewiiaapaayp casino. Neither George Skibine, acting deputy assistant secretary for the bureau, nor his press officer returned calls for comment.

Howard Dickstein, a Sacramento attorney who specializes in American Indian law, said the people who put together the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in 1988 had never thought about putting one tribe’s casino on another tribe’s land. A possible change in the act could “express congressional intent” better than the current law, he said.

The House Committee on Resources took testimony on the legislation Nov. 9. A committee staff member emphasized the legislation was in draft form only and has yet to be formally introduced. Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Stockton, chairs the committee.

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Software Deal:

San Diego-based Venture Catalyst Inc. has announced that Resorts International will license its Mariposa line of software at six of its casinos. Those sites include the Las Vegas Hilton. The aggregate value of the contract is $2.3 million.

Other casinos that will use the software under the deal are Resorts Atlantic City, Hilton Atlantic City, Resorts Tunica, Bally’s Tunica and Resorts East Chicago.

The Barona Valley Ranch Resort & Casino and the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas are among the casinos using VCAT’s software, which is a marketing and customer relationship management product.

Venture Catalyst trades over the counter, using the symbol VCAT. Its stock closed Nov. 21 at 85 cents per share. Its 52-week range has been 30 cents to $1.65.

Send Indian gaming news to Brad Graves at bradg@sdbj.com. Call him at (858) 277-6359, ext. 3115.


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