Acquiring Land in Trust Status for Casino Gaming

If your tribe wants to put land in trust for a casino or other gaming purposes, you’ll need attorneys who understand the law to guide you through the process. According to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (or “IGRA”), tribes cannot use land to develop a casino gaming business if the land was acquired in trust after October 17, 1988.

Exceptions to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act Rules for “After-Acquired” Land

Land acquired by a Tribe after that date is called “after-acquired land,” and it falls under the rules of the IGRA.  But there are some exceptions: 

  • If the new land is inside or touching the borders of your tribe’s reservation as it was on October 17, 1988, you can use it for a casino. 
  • The same is true for tribes that didn’t have a reservation on that date but the property is within their former reservation’s borders or is next to land they owned when IGRA was enacted.
  • According to IGRA, your tribe can game on land it acquired after October 17, 1988, if the land was part of a land claim settlement, or 
  • If it’s the first reservation of a tribe that the Secretary of the Interior has recognized under 25 C.F.R. pt 83, or 
  • If the land is being restored to a tribe that was terminated and then restored.

Exception for Two Part Determination Process 

There’s one more exception, called the “two-part determination” process. In this case, the Secretary of the Interior consults with the tribal applicant, the state where the land is located, local governments, and other nearby tribes. They all need to agree on two things: 

  1. That a casino on this land is in the best interest of your tribe, and
  2. That a casino or gaming business won’t hurt the community around it. 

The state’s Governor must also agree with the decision of the Secretary of the Interior.  

In addition, the process for acquiring land for gaming also involves separate regulations about how to apply for trust land

How the Attorneys at mctlaw Can Help with Acquiring Land in Trust for Gaming

The Indian law attorneys at mctlaw represent Tribal clients through this entire complex process. Our experience includes serving in the Office of the Solicitor at the Department of the Interior, and in the General Counsel’s Office at the National Indian Gaming Commission.  They’ve written opinions on land claims, initial reservations, and land restorations, and they’ve helped review and approve applications for the “two-part determination” process.

Contact us if your tribe needs help acquiring land in trust for a casino or gaming purposes to discuss your options and the best way to successfully achieve your Tribe’s goals.

Our team of experienced Indian Law attorneys can help with matters like: 

Content Reviewed by Derril Jordan – Indian Law

Derril Jordan is a mctlaw Indian Law Attorney

Derril B. Jordan is an Indian law attorney and partner with mctlaw, with 35 years of experience representing tribes as in-house counsel and in private practice. Mr. Jordan served as a presidential appointee in the Department of the Interior’s Office of the Solicitor, where he was the top lawyer for the Division of Indian Affairs. At mctlaw, Mr. Jordan concentrates on developing tribal enterprises, strengthening tribal governance, and improving government-to-government relationships between Indian tribes and the federal government. As a tribal member himself, Mr. Jordan has dedicated his career to the representation of Indian tribes and the strengthening of tribal sovereignty.

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