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Official says gaming compact makes minor changes

PIERRE, S.D. – A proposed revision in the state’s gaming compact with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe would make few substantial changes in the agreement that covers the tribe’s casino in north-central South Dakota, a state official said.

Larry Eliason, executive secretary of the South Dakota Gaming Commission, held a public hearing April 13 to get comments from area residents on the revised Standing Rock compact, which would be the first tribal gaming compact renegotiated in South Dakota since Gov. Mike Rounds took office.

The law requires such public hearings when compacts are proposed, Eliason said.

The Standing Rock Indian Reservation straddles North Dakota and South Dakota.

The state’s compact with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe covers the operation of the Grand River Casino, located in South Dakota across the Missouri River from Mobridge. The compact was last amended in 2001.

Eliason said the proposed revision would not change the limits that apply to gaming in the Grand River Casino. The bet limit would remain at $100 a bet, and the casino could have no more than 250 slot machines. There is no limit on the number of blackjack tables.

The revision would extend the compact for 10 years. It also would make some changes in how the state conducts background investigations on the casino’s prospective employees and then reports to the tribe, Eliason said.

“The agreement is the result of several negotiating sessions between a team from the tribe and a team from the state.”

After the public hearing, Eliason will inform the governor about comments made at the meeting. People unable to attend also can send written comments to the governor’s office.

If Rounds and Tribal Chairman Ron His Horse Is Thunder sign the compact, the document will go to the U.S. interior secretary, who has 90 days to approve or disapprove the deal.

A 1988 federal law says tribes can conduct the same kind of gambling that is allowed elsewhere in a state, but a tribe first has to negotiate a gaming compact with the state. Tribes began negotiating compacts to run their own casinos in South Dakota after a state constitutional amendment allowed casinos to start operating in Deadwood in 1989.

Eight of the nine Sioux tribes in South Dakota now have gaming compacts. The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe is the only tribe without a casino.

Some tribes have complained the state has refused to let them operate more than 250 slot machines, and that is preventing them from gaining revenue needed to finance non-gaming projects.

The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe filed a federal lawsuit a couple of years ago, arguing that Rounds and other state officials have unfairly prevented the tribe from adding more slot machines at its casino in Flandreau.

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