Obama Administration in the Mood for Gambling

DAVENPORT, WA - AUGUST 1: Patrons play the nickel slots at the Two Rivers Casino and Resort August 1, 2005 north of Davenport, Washington. The casino is one of the gaming operations of the Spokane Tribe of Indians that features roulette, coin slots, blackjack, craps and 3-card stud. The National Indian Gaming Commission released audited figures from tribes last month showing nation-wide tribal casino revenues rose 15.3 per cent in fiscal 2004, generating $19.4 billion. The nation's tribal casino revenues have more than tripled since 1995 and a U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs is reviewing possible changes to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act enacted in 1988. (Photo by Jeff T. Green/Getty Images) Photo: Jeff T. Green/2005 Getty Images

There may soon be more ways to lose money just an easy drive away from New York City: the Interior Department has decided to lift a law passed under the Bush administration that restricted Indian casino resorts to within commuting distance of the operating tribe's reservation. The newly loosened rules could mean Monticello, New York, would become the Las Vegas of the Catskills: the Wisconsin-based Stockbridge-Munsee tribe wants to build a $560 million casino there, and the St. Regis Mohawks hope to build a more modest gambling resort. Long Island could get a casino, too: the Hamptons-based Shinnecock tribe wants to build in Nassau County, reports the Times. It's likely more proposals will follow, though any plan would need local support and approval.

Nationwide, there's been an increasing turn of late to casino building as a way of injecting juice into depressed economies. The rule change on Indian casinos sends a small signal that the Obama administration is looking at every option when it comes to job creation. That or Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has an unquenchable thirst for the slot machine.

In Shift, Interior Dept. May Allow Tribes to Build Casinos Far From Reservations [NYT]