BELOIT -- The chair of the Bad River Band of Chippewa and city officials in Beloit are celebrating a temporary victory in their efforts to build a casino.
A bill in Congress aimed at restricting the spread of off-reservation casinos failed to get the two-thirds vote needed for passage.
Beloit has been working with the Bad River Tribe for five years to get approval for a three-hundred to four-hundred million-dollar casino that city leaders say would create thousands of jobs and pump millions of dollars into the local economy.
Both the tribe and the city have been lobbying Congress to defeat a bill introduced by Richard Pombo of California that would prevent tribes from building a casino on land not contiguous to its reservation.
Ray De Perry, tribal chairman, says the bill would also threaten tribal sovereignty by forcing gaming tribes to make payments to local communities where casinos are built, something he says Wisconsin tribes already do.
He says tribes have the unique status of working on a government-to-government basis and compacts are negotiated with the gaming tribes. He asks why such "overpowering legislation" is necessary to start mandating payments.
While the Pombo bill has had a setback, Beloit city officials are still worried it will be rewritten and reintroduced.
Marty Densch, city council president, says he's only breathing a brief sigh of relief. He says all they really want from this kind of legislation if it has to pass is some sort of grandfathering language that would allow applications that are already in the pipeline or close to completion the opportunity to complete that process.
Meanwhile, tribal gaming opponents are backing a bill with even more restrictions on tribal casinos. Michigan Republican Mike Rogers' bill would put a two-year moratorium on the approval of any new tribal casinos on or off the reservation.