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Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska

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The chairman of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission expressed cautious optimism about the possibility of the Winnebago Indian tribe eventually raising the age limit of its casino from 18 to 21. But it could be five years before negotiations begin since the tribe's current agreement with the state doesn't expire until 2006. Winnebago Tribal Council Chairman John Blackhawk said, '(The age) issue may be at the table, but the appropriate area to do that is with the governor's office. The tribe's casino is in Sloan, about 20 miles south of Sioux City. The tribe lowered its legal gambling age in 1999 to increase the number of customers at the casino, Blackhawk said. The Belle of Sioux City riverboat casino was fined $10,000 for allowing a 19-year-old woman from Minnesota to play the slot machines in February. The Belle's management said the number of underage gamblers turned away from the riverboat has nearly tripled since the Winnebago lowered its age limit. W.R. 'Bill'' Hansen, chairman of the gaming commission, said he hopes to make a recommendation to the governor's office that the casino raise its age limit before state leaders renegotiate a new agreement with tribal leaders.