Tribes warn lawmakers against gaming ban bill

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Tribal members are warning an Idaho House panel that tweaking the law on what gaming is allowed on Indian reservations would violate the delicate contracts between the tribes, state and federal government.

The House State Affairs Committee is currently considering legislation that would ban lucrative video gaming at tribal casinos in Idaho.

However, opponents argue that doing so goes against federally-approved agreements on what types of gambling can take place on a reservation because those agreements were built around certain laws. They say that changing the laws before the compacts are renegotiated or replaced with the state could spark multiple lawsuits.

Republican Rep. Tom Loertscher of Iona is backing legislation that would remove key section of a 2002 law detailing that video machines could not be defined as illegal slot machines. The proposal would allow the banning of the machines even if they do not have a lever or dispense coins.

The panel will vote on HB 127 on Wednesday.