In 2005, the State of California and the Big Lagoon Rancheria American Indian Tribe reached an agreement whereby the tribe agreed to forego development plans for a casino on environmentally sensitive lands in exchange for the right to build a casino in Barstow, California. In January 2008, the Department of the Interior denied the Rancheria’s land-into-trust application for land in Barstow based on the Department’s newly issued “commutable distance” memorandum. This denial represents a missed opportunity to allow California and the tribe to cooperate in fashioning a workable tribal-state compact. The Department should abandon the guidance memorandum and allow tribes to pursue offreservation gaming in appropriate instances where the proposed development enjoys political support at the local level. In exchange, states should be afforded greater deference under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act to achieve some level of regulatory control to address the offreservation impacts of casino development.
Betting the Rancheria: Environmental Protections as Bargaining Chips Under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act,
B.C. Envtl. Aff. L. Rev.