Federal Recognition Process & Atlantic City Gaming Interests
This clip introduces the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) and the role of Atlantic City gaming interests in the federal recognition process for Native American communities.
Writing in 1995, Bruce Babbit, who served as the Secretary of the Interior from 1993-2001, pointed out in a letter to the Secretary of the United States Senate that:
“ It is a matter of public record that the proposed decision regarding the Ramapough was ‘leaked’ to supporters of Atlantic City gaming interests weeks before it was final, or even before it was presented to the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs. A decision regarding the Ramapough’s quest for recognition should be made independently of any concerns about gambling on Indian reservations or anywhere else.” - Bruce Babbit, Former Secretary of the Interior
Here we see that the “gaming interests” in Atlantic City were concerned about potential competition for their casinos after the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) created a structure for governing casinos run by federally recognized tribes. Donald Trump filed a federal lawsuit in 1993 that challenged the constitutionality of the law. In a congressional hearing in October 1993 he stated “it’s obvious that organized crime is rampant on the Indian reservations. This thing is going to blow sky high. It will be the biggest scandal since Al Capone, and it will destroy the gaming industry.” His suit alleged that IGRA encouraged unfair competition that threatened his casinos. The suit mostly targeted tribes in Connecticut, but also mentioned the Ramapough and their application for federal recognition (Fallon 2016).
Pages from the 1993 Oversight Hearing before the Subcommittee on Native American Affairs about IGRA. https://turtletalk.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/1993-trump-nat-res-testimony-pdf.pdf