March 14, 1995 in Nation/World

Tribe Pleads Case In D.C. Work Begins On Lottery Center, But Real Job Is On Capitol Hill

Rich Roesler Eric Torbenson Contribut Staff writer
 

One week after unveiling their National Indian Lottery in Washington, D.C., members of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe are back in the nation’s capital to lobby lawmakers against a bill that would severely restrict it.

New York and New Jersey congressmen plan to introduce legislation this week to alter the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The changes would require the tribe to get approval from each of the 36 states where the lottery would be available.

“Our people are back in D.C. now, trying to head this off,” tribal chairman Ernie Stensgar said Monday. “We jumped through the hoops, dotted the i’s and crossed our t’s.”

Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, will meet today with the tribe’s gaming director, Dave Matheson. Craig wants to talk with tribal representatives before taking a stand, press secretary David Fish said.

Matheson and Craig aren’t strangers. Five years ago, the senator recommended Matheson, a former tribal chairman, for a political appointment in the U.S. Interior Department.

On the reservation, meanwhile, the tribe is pressing ahead. Workers are finishing the foundation for the $2.7 million 32,000-square-foot lottery center next to the tribe’s bingo hall.

Several states have said they won’t allow the lottery within their borders, and Stensgar said the tribe expects a legal challenge. Costs, he said, will be paid by Unistar Gaming Corp., the Coloradobased management company for the lottery.

In April, the tribe will begin hiring 200 telemark eters and 100 managers and support staff. Stensgar said preference will be given to tribal members and local people. He said wage scales haven’t been set, but he said he expects the reservation’s 35 percent unemployment rate to plummet.

“Everyone who wants to work will have the opportunity to have a job,” he said.

Idaho’s all-Republican congressional delegation is split over the tribe’s effort.

“Mike is opposed to it,” said Susan Wheeler, press secretary for Rep. Mike Crapo. “He’s always been opposed to lotteries. He doesn’t feel we should look at gambling as a source of public funding.”

Rep. Helen Chenoweth also has said she opposes the lottery. It usurps other states’ power to regulate gambling within their borders, she says.

Like Craig, Sen. Dirk Kempthorne hasn’t decided one way or the other, said press secretary Mark Snider.

MEMO: Cut in Spokane edition

The following fields overflowed: BYLINE = Rich Roesler Staff writer Staff writer Eric Torbenson contributed to this report.

Cut in Spokane edition

The following fields overflowed: BYLINE = Rich Roesler Staff writer Staff writer Eric Torbenson contributed to this report.

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