An ambitious bill by Kansas legislators would prohibit federal gambling on private property, except in some instances when it is for charitable or educational purposes.
The bill, HB 972, would also eliminate the federal government’s authority to enforce state laws against casinos on federal land.
The bill was introduced by Kansas House Speaker Jody Stephens (R-Salina), who said in a statement: Kansas has more than 20,000 casinos, and we’ve never had a casino on federal property.
That’s the truth.
That means we are going to be a part of that.
We are going for the real thing.
We have a chance to make this a reality for Kansas and for the people of Kansas.
This is a great opportunity for all of us.
While the bill does not explicitly prohibit federal casinos from operating on federal public lands, it does prohibit the government from issuing or enforcing a gambling license to a casino operator on federal or state land.
The federal government would then be required to conduct its own review of a license application to determine if it would be appropriate for a casino to operate on federal government land.
States, however, have long opposed federal gaming on public lands and have argued that federal gambling operations could pose risks to public health and safety, especially for young people.
The Kansas bill also prohibits the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs from issuing any license or other permits to any casino operator in Kansas.
The bill is unlikely to be signed into law, however.
Republican state senators are in a fight over the bill’s fate.
A bipartisan group of Senate Democrats has blocked a bill that would prevent the federal federal government from gambling on public land, arguing that it would infringe on state control over gambling.
The National Gaming Control Board, the federal agency that administers the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, said it has not determined whether to approve the bill.
The board has the power to issue a license to casinos on Indian lands, but it has only issued licenses to two casinos since 2008.
Republican state Sen. Dave Reichert (R) has introduced legislation to overturn that ruling.
The proposal would create a commission to determine whether federal casinos could operate on public or tribal lands.
A Republican majority in the Senate has yet to vote on the proposal, but the measure has a strong chance of passing if it is signed by Republican Gov.
Sam Brownback (R).
If enacted, the bill would be the first of its kind in the country.
And it would not be the only federal gambling ban that would be overturned by a Republican majority.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.