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House panel backs limits on siting of tribal casinos

WASHINGTON -- Indian tribes would be blocked from building Las Vegas-style casinos off their reservations under legislation approved by a House committee yesterday.

The bill by Richard Pombo, a California Republican who chairs the Resources committee, takes aim at the trend of ``off-reservation gambling" or, as some critics call it, ``reservation shopping."

Although the trend is limited, it has become highly controversial: Some tribes have moved hundreds of miles and even across state lines to find better locations for their casinos.

``Instead of seeking to bring economic development to the Indian reservation, they have instead sought to bring the Indian reservation to wherever there is economic development," Pombo said. ``This is wrong, and it threatens both the future of Native American economic development and the integrity of Indian tribal sovereignty."

Pombo's bill, which passed 27 to 9, would amend the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 to eliminate an exception that allows off-reservation casinos approved by the Interior secretary and the state's governor.

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