March 2, 2023 3 min read


Miami Mayor Warns about Federal Rule That May Allow New Tribal Casinos

Miami Beach’s mayor has asked the federal government to reject a proposal that would allow Indian tribes to build resort casinos

In the proposal letter that he sent to the US Department of the Interior, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber told the Bureau of Indian Affairs that its proposed rule to allow Indian tribes to purchase off-reservation land is likely to ease and speed up the construction of off-reservation Indian gaming casinos. 

As explained by mayor Gelber in his letter, according to the terms of the proposal, Indian tribes would be able to buy the land, place it in a trust and enjoy similar exemptions from both state and federal law that are usually given to reservations. 

As explained by Thomas Gede, Miami Beach’s hired lawyer who specializes in American Indian law, the list of exemptions refers to the obligation to pay property taxes, comply with zoning and environmental regulations, and limit the oversight of local and state law enforcement. 

Ongoing Opposition from the Miami Beach City Commission 

The Miami Beach City Commission has been a fervent supporter of the fight against the expansion of gambling in the city for years. Since 2008, the commission has opposed no less than six proposals sent to the Florida Legislature as well as county governments.

Even though federal and state governments are asked to first give the green light to a gaming compact prior to a tribe being allowed to operate a casino on its land, Gelber issued his warning regarding the new proposed federal rule that would remove the provision asking the secretary of the Interior “to listen to and give ‘greater weight’ to the state and local governments” on these matters when the acquisition refers to off-reservation land. 

The mayor further described the proposed rules as a “seismic shift” that would no longer allow local governments “to object and be heard” while posing a direct threat to Miami Beach’s rules and policies that strongly disapprove casino gambling.

The New Rule Could Streamline the Acquisition of Tribal Land

On the other hand, The Bureau of Indian Affairs spoke about the new rule as an attempt to streamline a series of previous regulations and opinions that have been expressed in the past decades in regard to the acquisition of tribal land. 

In the rule notice written by the same bureau in the Federal Register, the proposed rule is looking to make the land into trust process more efficient and less costly to support the restoration of tribal homelands. 

Mayor Gede added that the new rule would eliminate the current regulation that asks the views of state and local governments to be “given greater scrutiny” when federal officials are required to approve or reject casino proposals. 

The public had until March 1 to send its comments regarding the matter. Now, the bureau will decide if they should veto the proposal or give it the green light and approve it as a final rule.

Provided it would be approved by the federal government, the new rule would first be published in the Federal Register, then go through voting from the Office of Management and Budget and Congress, which would either validate or invalidate it. Another option would be for the proposal to be halted in a legal challenge.

After finishing her master's in publishing and writing, Melanie began her career as an online editor for a large gaming blog and has now transitioned over towards the iGaming industry. She helps to ensure that our news pieces are written to the highest standard possible under the guidance of senior management.

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