United States Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) have introduced a new bill that could further restrict Native American tribes’ ability to establish off-reservation casinos.  

The legislation, entitled “The Tribal Gaming Eligibility Act,” would amend the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) and require tribes seeking to open a casino on non-reservation holdings acquired since 1988 to have both a modern and aboriginal connection to the land. The criteria for this connection includes a 25 mile proximity to an existing reservation currently occupied by tribal members, a routine tribal presence on the proposed casino site since 1988, an application moving the land into trust status filed with the Interior Department within five years of tribal recognition, and that the tribe not already operate a gaming facility elsewhere.  

Tribe’s that can’t meet these criteria will have to go through a two-part determination before a casino can be built, in which the Interior Secretary and state governor must approve the plan as being in the best interest of the tribe and not detrimental to the local community.  

This is the second time over the past year that Sen. Feinstein has proposed a bill seeking to tighten the rules regarding the placement of non-tribal land into trust status for the purposes of opening a casino, which is sometimes called “reservation shopping,” according to Indian Country Today. The previous bill had died in last year’s session of Congress.  

Sen. Feinstein’s district includes the San Francisco area, where tribes are seeking approval for non-reservation gaming facilities. Recently, a plan by the Guidiville Band of Pomo Indians to build a $1 billion off-reservation casino in the San Francisco area city of Richmond was rejected by the community’s City Council. The Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians also seeks to develop a casino resort in Richmond.  

A number of Arizona gaming tribes are also pursuing off-reservation casino development projects.