A proposal to allow up to six casinos in North Dakota suffered a setback after the resolution was sent back to a House committee on Thursday.
The House Judiciary Committee had earlier given House Concurrent Resolution 3033, introduced by House Majority Leader Al Carlson, R-Fargo, a “do not pass” recommendation in a 13-2 vote on Wednesday.
But thanks to Assistant House Majority Leader Don Vigessa, R-Cooperstown, the resolution was given a new lease on life after it was re-referred on the House floor Thursday, and was approved by a voice vote.
The Bismarck Tribune reported the committee is expected to take it up again Monday.
Carlson introduced an amendment in the state Constitution on Wednesday that would allow for up to six privately-owned, state-regulated casinos in North Dakota.
He proposed that the new casinos will be located at least 20 miles away from Native American reservations and at least 5 miles away from cities with more than 5,000 people. The legislation would also create the North Dakota Casino Gaming Commission.
North Dakota has five poker rooms with about two dozen tables between them.
Currently, there are nearly 4,000 slot machines statewide between the 10 tribal casinos. Tribal gaming is regulated by the federal government and not the state of North Dakota.
There was another proposal to allow the casinos anywhere in the state but it too failed during Wednesday’s vote.
If approved by the Legislature, voters could decide the issue in the June 2018 primary.
But tribal chairmen and charitable gaming officials who rely on gambling revenue are now up in arms against the resolution at this early stage.
Under federal law, casinos are allowed on tribal land in North Dakota. Tribes fear that a change to the state Constitution to allow more casinos would hurt Indian gambling facilities and relationships with tribes.
“It’s our catalyst. It’s our vehicle for change. It’s the pulling up of the boot straps that we always hear people say, why don’t those Indians pull themselves up by the boot straps? So we do. We conduct our gaming and we’re darn good at it,” MHA Nation chairman Mark Fox said.