|The House voted Wednesday to kill plans for a national commission to study Indian gaming, a probe that would have been similar to a two-year federal inspection of casinos, lotteries and other gambling completed in 1999. |
Nevada's two representatives voted 273-151 to delete the commission from an Interior Department spending bill.
Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., voted for the gambling study while Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., opposed it.
'Reno and Northern Nevada are being impacted by tribal gaming (in Northern California),' Gibbons said. 'My concern is that Indian gaming is not well-regulated. In Nevada, gambling is highly regulated.'
Berkley said she voted against the proposal because it came from Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., a foe of all gambling. Berkley said she is suspicious of any gambling-related legislation Wolf offers.
'This is just another way for Frank Wolf to do damage to my district's major industry,' Berkley said. 'He is looking for the worst aspects of gaming, and when the National Gambling Impact Study Commission report did not yield the results he wanted, he thought he would try a different approach and this is it.'
Wolf's tribal gambling audit would have been funded with $200,000 taken from Bureau of Indian Affairs administrative accounts.
Among other things, the proposed 13-member commission would have investigated if organized crime has infiltrated Indian gambling operations.
'If you really care about Indians, what are you afraid of?' Wolf asked lawmakers during the debate. 'What are you afraid of (from) an 18-month commission to look back and make recommendations? What are you afraid of?'
Rep. J.D. Hayworth, R-Ariz., whose district includes several Indian reservations, led the opposition to Wolf's proposal. Hayworth argued there already have been 73 federal studies of Indian gambling, including six requested by Wolf.
'This is real money, and to take this from programs of the BIA and apply it to yet another study, no matter how well intentioned, is exactly the wrong policy at the wrong time for what might be sincere reasons,' Hayworth said.
Wolf played a key role in persuading Congress to approve a $5 million budget for the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, a nine-member panel which examined the economic and social impact of legalized gambling from 1997 to 1999.
'(Indians) operate their casinos under more restrictions than any other operators in the country,' said Rep. George Miller, D-Calif. 'This (proposal) is just disingenuous.'