Monday, November 28, 2005

Losing Gamble in Western New York

Those of us in NY who are concerned about the spread of gambling suffered a defeat today when the US Supreme Court declined to review the decision by the New York Court of Appeals in Dalton v. Pataki.

In the email sent out by CACGEC spreading the news about the decision was the news that Sen. Voinovich of Ohio introduced Bill S.1518 (in July) to bring some balance to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). has an explanation:
In New York commercialized gambling is prohibited by its Constitution and Penal Law.

This decision if allowed to stand will turn the cooperative federalism intended in the IGRA to one of complete preemption. The IGRA was intended to allow Indian nations and tribes to conduct games that are integral to their ancient cultures free from state interference and put them on equal standing on other games of chance with others in the state. This decision gives Indian nations and tribes the right to conduct gambling that is otherwise prohibited to others in the state on the basis of race and ethnicity and compel our State Governors to carry out a federal policy in violation of the 10th Amendment.

Also this will, if allowed to stand, fuel the number of Indian Land claims which will cloud property owners' titles for years in order to obtain casinos.

We must urge Congress to restore the balance and prohibit commercial gambling on Indian land in states that prohibit commercial gambling to others.

Through the system I sent the following message to my own Senators Clinton and Schumer and Representative Slaughter, asking them to support the Voinovich bill:
With the U.S. Supreme Court decision to let the Court of Appeals decision in Dalton v. Pataki stand we have lost a degree of state sovereignty in favor of Seneca Nation of Indians sovereignty. It is unfortunate that this is now settled law.

However, I urge you to support S.1518, introduced by Senator Voinovich, to restore balance and prohibit commercial gambling on Indian land in states that prohibit commercial gambling to others.
This development is not exactly unexpected, but it is disappointing. If the Senecas open their third casino in the Buffalo Cobblestone district, it will be just a mile from my place of work. I absolutely hate the idea.

My greater fear is that once they have the third location in place they will start building non-casino related businesses, and sell gasoline and cigarettes without collecting sales taxes from non-Indians. The Senecas have a history of flouting treaties by selling tax-free to non-Indians, where the tax exemption is supposed to apply only to members of the Nation.

This position has been upheld in NY State courts, but the last time the governor tried to enforce it there were some minor skirmishes, including the closure of sections of the NYS Thruway, which passes through Reservation land. They are still not collecting sales taxes, and have an obvious unfair advantage over local businesses that do.

Then they would not only be "exporting money" from our local economy through gambling losses, they would be undermining our local governmental budgets by depriving them of rightfully due tax revenues.


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