The skewed perspective of a conservative Catholic employee-side employment lawyer living in the most exciting city in the Milky Way, Las Vegas, Nevada USA, who listens to a lot of really strange music and who, for some reason, lives and dies St. Louis Cardinal baseball

3/06/2005

The constitutionality of Indian gaming

Living in Las Vegas, this is a question I've pondered. Why, in most states, is there a racial criteria for entering into the business of casino ownership?

Today's Las Vegas Review-Journal has an editorial from Cato Institute fellow Doug Bandow on the subject of Indian gaming. It's not available in the on-line edition of the Review-Journal, but here's a link to an article by Bandow on this subject, in townhall.com, from about six months ago.

I don't understand why the 14th amendment, guaranteeing equal protection under the laws, does not forbid race-based employment/ownership classifications, which is exactly what tribal gaming is. In 30 states, you have to be a member of a particular racial group (with possible low threshold of entry, see, e.g., Ward Churchill) in order to enter a particular line of business: casino ownership. The 14th amendment issue is exacerbated when an Indian tribe opens a casino on "non-tribal" land, but the constitutional problem exists regardless of where the casino is built -- unless it's built in Nevada or one of the other states where all citizens are free to enter the casino business.

In the case of casino ownership, all races are not equal under the eyes of the law. Why Indian tribes among the racial groups? Regardless of whatever good might be created in allowing the development of isolated tribal lands -- although the successful casinos are not being built on isolated tribal lands -- this should not be done at the expense of trashing the 14th amendment.
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