Lingle and Case
insist Akaka Bill
allows no gambling

The Akaka Bill has raised concerns about whether native Hawaiians will be able to host gambling if they gain federal recognition and subsequently form a self-governing body.

That government would still be subject to control by Congress under its "plenary powers."

U.S. Rep. Ed Case, D-Hawaii, said yesterday, "Absolutely nothing authorizes gambling in the state of Hawaii."

Gov. Linda Lingle, who is in Washington, D.C., this week for debate on the Akaka Bill and the possible closure of the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, said: "We amended the bill already. The version before the Senate outlaws gambling. This does not allow legalized gambling in our state -- something I have opposed all my life in public office."

Lingle said, "We wouldn't object to any strong language as it relates to gambling."

Case noted that the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act does not allow gaming activity by an American tribe if the state does not allow gaming. Currently, Hawaii, Utah and Tennessee are the only states without some form of gaming.

Additionally, Case said that even if the state of Hawaii had gaming, the federal gaming act currently only applies to Indian lands.

"And there are no Indian lands in Hawaii," said Case. "Ceded lands are not Indian lands. Under IGRA, Indian lands are owned and operated by federally recognized Indian tribes."

Under the current wording of the Akaka Bill, called the Native Hawaiian Recognition Act of 2005, "nothing shall be construed to authorize the native Hawaiian governing entity to conduct gaming activities under the authority of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act."

Last week, the Department of Justice took issue with several aspects of the Akaka Bill, including gambling. The issues were raised in a letter from Assistant Attorney General William Moschella to U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

The letter said "the legislation should clearly provide that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act will not apply to the native Hawaiian governing entity, and that the governing entity will not have gaming rights."

Case said, "This is a red-herring issue thrown out to cause concern where there is none. This argument has three nails in its coffin, and if one more is needed, I'm happy to hammer it home."

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