McCain Goes After Indian Casinos

McCain targets tribal casinos (The Oregonian)

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, told tribal leaders Monday in Portland that he intends to proceed with legislation putting new restrictions on tribal casinos.

McCain said he wants to keep tribes from building new off-reservation casinos that ratchet up gambling in urban areas. He said he does not yet know how he would deal with current off-reservation proposals, including one for Cascade Locks.

If Congress doesn’t take action, “you get into a situation of, where does it stop?” McCain said in an interview with The Oregonian. “Soon every Indian tribe is going to have a casino in downtown, metropolitan areas. . . . I do think it’s not a healthy thing to do.”

The reason they’re allowed to build casinos on the Reservations is because they are accorded quasi-sovereign status in the Constitution. It’s unclear to me why Indian tribes would have any more immunity from local law than anyone else for activities taking place off the Reservation.

Otherwise, I’m not sure why Congress should care whether casinos are built in downtown, metro areas. Indeed, it’s difficult to conceive of anything more completely local in its effect and, therefore, the province of state and municipal government.

McCain, who is pondering running for president again in 2008, visited Portland on Monday to meet with tribal leaders, appear at a $2,000-a-person fundraiser for Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., and speak at an Oregon Business Association dinner.

The senator delivered what sounded like the rough draft of a presidential stump speech as he decried wasteful federal spending, urged immigration reform and pleaded with Congress to work in a bipartisan fashion.

What’s intriguing is that the oracle of campaign finance reform is raising $2000 a plate for giving the same tired speech over and again. Does he think they’re that interested in his words of wisdom? Are they, just perhaps, seeking influence?

via email tip from OTB roving correspondent Richard Gardner

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. DL says:

    Here in CT our deceitful(no-income tax) ex Gov. Weicker instituted Indian gaming.

    I wonder why the state just didn’t start it and keep all the proceeds for itself?

  2. jimbo says:

    Interesting in that Indian tribes are big political contributors. See what DeLay did for them. Clinton was a big recipient of Indian tribe money. I guess that McCain figures he isn’t gonna get their money anyway and he can use their contributions against any likely opponents by demonizing the tribes.