Saturday, November 18, 2006

3182 The lucrative Indian gambling casinos

Now that Jack Abramoff has gone to prison for cheating a client, do you suppose they'll get around to investigating Democrat Harry Reid? Probably not. When this story first broke, the media was complicit in down playing the number of Democrats involved in the Indian gambling casino lobbyist problem, so only the Republicans were smeared.

At the time, the WSJ reported that Indian gaming "is a $19 billion industry involving 228 tribes operating 405 gambling operations in 30 states." The stakes are high, with both the federal and state governments involved in the take. Illinois has some strict rules about who and how many can operate casinos, so it's a great opportunity for the Menominees of Wisconsin. But there's some complicated shinanigans that have to take place in Washington, and that will of course require some money to change hands before the first table or slot machine moves in. You see, Kenosha isn't on the reservation so some land will need to be transferred to the Bureau of Indian affairs. This is where the lobbyists earn their pay. What Abramoff was doing was just the tip of the iceberg, and if he'd been a Democrat, I think he'd have stayed underwater to work his magic.

With governments, state and federal, so involved in regulation, the opportunities to try to get around them just increases. The lobbyists get paid by the Indians to fight off the applications of other Indians who want gambling income. Where's the ethics in that scheme? Indian tribes in California have become the largest contributor to political campaigns. Whether or not there were some illegal deals depends on who's telling the story, but lets not play the race card and say the Indians are too naive to understand the stakes. They've been rolling these dice for a lot of years.

And let's not forget those Clinton folk who approved some new Indian tribes as they ran out the door in 2000. Being an Indian these days even if it's a tribe you made up, can be very lucrative. In Ohio we recently voted down a gambling scheme which would benefit a few Cleveland people. I'm sure now they'll become Indians--maybe they'll find a descendent of the Eries or Iroquis whose ancestors miraculously survived the 17th century, and put it on the ballot again.

There is a new title by Ron Johnson, listed as forthcoming 2006 which will be worth a look: "Self-Determination: The Other Path for Native Americans." I haven't found a library record. Here's a related title, on the gambling issue chapter in a book.

Oh, for the simple days of Abscam and crabby Jack Murtha. When the crooks didn't go to jail and just became Senators. (Check this article about how WaPo kept Abramoff front page and ignored Murtha's murky past.)

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