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EIR/EIS Hearing On Proposed Parkway Casino

There will be a public hearing on the Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) for the proposed casino on land owned by the Scotts Valley band of Pomo Indians on the Richmond Parkway just north of the Richmond city limits at the Richmond Auditorium, 403 Civic Center Plaza (25th and Nevin, Richmond) on Wednesday 3/15/06 at 6:00 pm. EIS No. 20060046, Draft EIS, BIA, CA, Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians, Proposed 29.87 Acre Fee-to-Trust Transfer and Casino Project, Contra Costa County, CA, Comment Period Ends: April 28, 2006, Contact: John Rydzik 916-978-6042.

A website sponsored by the opposition can be found at http://www.stopparkwaycasino.com/pages/1/index.htm. The Scott’s Valley Band can be contacted at Scotts Valley (Rancheria) Band of Pomo Indians of the Sugar Bowl, Federally Recognized, 149 N Main St. #200, Lakeport, CA  95453. 707-263-4771. Fax: 263-4773.

Meanwhile, new federal legislation has been introduced that could make establishing new casinos in or near Richmond more difficult.

Bill limits Indian casinos to reservation
Legislation co-authored by Pombo, R-Tracy, would prevent tribes from building on land granted to them by government

ASSOCIATED PRESS Posted on Thu, Mar. 09, 2006

Reacting to backlash against Indian gambling's most controversial trend, key lawmakers are seeking to limit Indian tribes' ability to establish casinos away from their reservations.

Bills by House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, and Senate Indian Affairs Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., would eliminate an exception in existing law that allows tribes with reservations to build casinos in other locations -- even in other states.

Their bills would also tighten the circumstances under which tribes that have been newly recognized by the federal government or don't have reservation land of their own could get permission to build casinos.

"What I'm attempting to do is deal with a problem that we have with Indian gaming expanding into areas that no one imagined it would expand into to the degree that it has," Pombo said.

The vast majority of the nation's 400-plus tribal casinos, which took in $18.5 billion in 2004, were built on existing reservation land. As Indian gambling boomed, tribes began looking beyond their borders for better locations.

The 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act allows off-reservation gambling only under a narrow set of exceptions. Tribes are increasingly pursuing alternatives such as getting Congress to grant them federal trust land where gambling is permitted.

So far, about 30 tribes have succeeded, the Interior Department says.

Bills by Pombo and McCain would eliminate off-reservation gambling for tribes with their own reservation land. Landless or newly recognized tribes would be able to build casinos only on land to which they have historic, geographic or other ties.

Under Pombo's proposal, tribes could invite other tribes to build casinos on their reservation land and share profits. He also suggests additional steps that landless or new tribes would have to take, such as stronger input from the local community.

In the East Bay, attempts in recent years by at least three landless Indian tribes to secure federal trust land for major urban casinos has stoked the national debate.

If it flies, Pombo's bill could stall the Scotts Valley and Guidiville bands of Pomo Indians in their attempts to secure casino land in North Richmond and Richmond, respectively. The bill calls for such tribes to win support from the governor and the state Legislature, and also from other tribes within 75 miles of the proposed casino.

Scotts Valley and Guidiville would need concurrence from the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians, which runs bingo machines at Casino San Pablo on land that Congress put into trust for the tribe in 2000. The Rumsey Band of Wintun Indians, which runs Cache Creek in Yolo County, might also need to agree.

Scotts Valley and Guidiville already face an uphill battle through the regulatory process, and "this (bill) would certainly help to eliminate them," said Cheryl Schmit of Stand Up for California, an Indian gaming watchdog group."

The third tribe, Lower Lake Rancheria Koi Nation, has pulled back on a controversial plan for a casino near Oakland International Airport, though the tribe could revive it.

The Lytton tribe was stalled last year by the state Legislature on a compact with Gov. Schwarzenegger for a Las Vegas-style casino. Lytton has stood for critics as a poster child of abuse of federal Indian gaming law -- even though the tribe steered around the federal regulatory process that Pombo wants to change.

Some tribes trying to build off-reservation criticized the proposals, saying they erect needless barriers to Indian economic development.

"For a lot of tribes (off-reservation gambling) creates an economic opportunity that's not there for us right now," said James Ransom, chief of New York's St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, which is trying for a Catskills casino.