|Letter from Rep. Don Young (R-AK) to Speaker
Re: request that the House Resources Committee receive sequential referral of HR 3125, the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act.
Date: February 29, 2000.
Source: Tech Law Journal scanned a paper copy and converted to HTML. The letterhead was omitted. Hyperlinks have been added.
[letter sent on stationary of the House Resources Committee]
February 29, 2000
The Honorable J. Dennis Hastert
Speaker's Office H232
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Mr. Speaker:
This letter is to seek sequential referral of H.R. 3125, the proposed Internet Gambling Prohibition Act of 1999, legislation intended "to prohibit Internet gambling".
H.R. 3125 is pending before the House Judiciary Committee and I am concerned about the effect that this legislation may have on Indian tribes, tribal sovereignty, and the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 (IGRA).
I note that H.R. 3125 has been reported out of Subcommittee containing an exemption from its proposed Internet gambling prohibition for the following forms of gambling:
--and all other intrastate pari-mutual wagering authorized by any State.
It appears that just about the only Internet gambling prohibited by H.R. 3125 is tribal gaming. As you know, tribal gaming is heavily regulated either by the Federal Indian Gaming Commission or by Tribal-State compacts entered into pursuant to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988. IGRA does not prohibit tribal Internet gaming.
Like state governments, Indian tribes have been accorded dependent sovereign status by the United States since our Nation's inception. Unfortunately, H.R.3125 ignores this very important and
long-standing legal distinction. Instead of recognizing this distinction, H.R. 3125 relegates these dependent sovereign governments to the same status as private sector businesses. I note that State lotteries are not treated as private sector businesses in H.R. 3125.
As Chairman of the Resources Committee I am concerned about any legislation which undermines the sovereignty of tribal nations. IGRA was established to provide clear standards for the conduct of Indian gaming, and by so doing to protect Indian gaming as a vehicle for economic development, self-sufficiency, and strong tribal government. Report language accompanying IGRA explained that tribes are specifically authorized to use electronic, computer, or other technological aids in conjunction with certain Indian gaming.
IGRA does not prohibit tribal Internet gaming. In this respect, H.R. 3125 appears to amend IGRA. For the House to now propose a prohibition on Internet gaming by Indian tribes, as this bill seeks to do, flies in the face of the intent of IGRA and the tribes' ability to achieve economic self-determination through the use of technology. Equally important, it sets a dangerous precedent for the concept of tribal sovereignty.
The Resources Committee has substantive jurisdiction over all legislation dealing with Indian affairs. Accordingly, I hereby seek sequential referral to the Committee on Resources of H.R. 3125 or any other similar legislation related to Internet gambling. Should you have any questions concerning this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me. Staff inquiries may be directed to Tim Glidden of the Resources Committee at x5-6869.