S.D. gaming bill shot down

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PIERRE, S.D. -The South Dakota House of Representatives handed the state's
tribes a victory on a gaming bill that would have given the legislature
final approval of any compact that expanded gaming.

Proponents of the bill argued that if the legislature had final approval
state residents would have a say in any expansion of gaming, such as adding
gaming devices or if new locations were negotiated between the governor and
the tribes.

Opponents - including all eight of the gaming tribes, the governor and a
South Dakota gaming company - argued that control by the legislature would
be cumbersome given the fact that few knew anything about federal gaming
law.

Legislators said that since the tribal representative had to go back to
their councils for approval, the legislature should also be included. And
because eight other states included legislative approval, South Dakota
should also.

Gaming compacts in South Dakota are renewable every two to four years. If
the tribes do not ask for a negotiation of the compact, the compacts
automatically renew. Each tribal compact has a different renewal date; this
time around, most tribes indicated a desire to increase the number of
gaming devices from the current maximum of 250 slot machines.

This is the second consecutive year in which this or a similar bill has
gone through the process only to be defeated in the end.

Opponents argued that with the tight legislative calendar given the short
session each year it would be difficult for the legislature to go through
case law and review federal gaming regulations.

Tom Van Norman, Lakota, District 28A representative, which includes the
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and part of the Standing Rock Reservation, said
the committee didn't even have time to hear all the testimony on this bill.

"This isn't just about this bill, I wish it were. There is another reason
behind this bill, a little wrestling with the power structure here," Van
Norman said.

Opponents continued to argue that they had heard there was nothing wrong,
no problems with the gaming compacts or tribal gaming, so let this bill
die.

To increase the number of machines by 30, a business need only add another
room inside the existing building. The legislature has no say in the
matter, and opponents suggested that because it was tribal gaming some
proponents wanted to get involved with stopping any expansion of a tribal
business.

"Congress did not include the legislature's approval when it passed gaming
in 1988, probably for the same reason it doesn't require legislative
approval now," said Gordon Peterson, District 30 representative. "Lay this
bill to rest now, someone sing 'Rock of Ages' and let's go on."

The house killed the bill on a 23 - 47 vote.