Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Republicans: Senate should approve Indian tribes’ deals

The Wisconsin Legislature may get the opportunity to say "no dice" to future gaming agreements with Indian tribes if legislative proposals by two state Republicans becomes law.

Sen. Ted Kanavas, R-Brookfield, reintroduced a joint resolution Friday that would amend the state's constitution to require the Senate to "advise and consent" to any deals with Indian tribes, as well as other states and nations.

On Monday, Rep. Robin Vos, R-Caledonia, called upon the Senate to hold hearings on a proposed bill which, if passed, would grant the Legislature increased oversight of off-reservation casinos.


Currently, decisions on casinos are made by Gov. Jim Doyle and his administration.

Both legislators cited a report released earlier this month by the state's Legislative Audit Bureau, which found the Division of Gaming was unaware of numerous discrepancies between amounts of money counted by electronic gaming machines and the amount actually collected by casino employees.

"The Legislative Audit Bureau's conclusion that the governor failed to properly oversee the tribes' conduct under these agreements brings the entire tribal compact process into question again," Kanavas said in a release Friday.

Echoing Kanavas' sentiments, Vos said that"the only way to insure these accountability problems are corrected is to allow the Legislature to be part of the process."

The accounting mistakes have been pinned on faulty computer programming of the casinos' Data Collection System, according to a Division of Gaming release. The DCS electronically records information such as the amount of money stored in a machine's drop box and payout rates.

The Bureau found differences between electronic and manual counts occurred every day of the past year.

The audit said to ensure fair payouts for gamblers and the correct share of revenue for the state, the DCS must be reliable.

Gambling in Wisconsin brought Indian tribes $1.2 billion in revenue in 2006. Profits last year totaled $556 million, and the state's cut came in at $121 million.

Robert Sloey, administrator at the Division of Gaming, said the computer errors are already being fixed.

However, Sean Lundie, spokesperson for Kanavas, said if the DCS was properly monitored, such errors may never have happened.

Lundie said a "lack of oversight" of gaming is a problem in the state that needs to be addressed.

Negotiation of compacts, Lundie said, with both Indian tribes and bands, as well as other states and nations, would be affected by Kanavas' amendment.

"If this bill would have been in place, the state of Wisconsin would have had some legislative oversight over the process of [negotiations]," Lundie said.

Lundie added if Senate approval becomes necessary to implement long-term agreements, as delineated in the bill, negotiations would result in better deals for both citizens and the state.

"The governor would know that it has to be an agreement that receives bipartisan support," Lundie said.

However, Mike McCabe, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, has voiced skepticism at the proposed legislation.

"Legislative oversight of gambling and casino gaming in particular has been very weak, and this has a lot to do with the political influence of the gaming industry," McCabe said.

While not entirely dismissive of the efforts to increase oversight, McCabe said that "the most significant thing [the legislature] could do is enact significant campaign finance reforms."

As a constitutional amendment, Kanavas' resolution must pass through both houses twice, and then be ratified by referendum. Vos' bill has been passed by the Assembly and is currently awaiting a hearing by the Senate Ethics Reform and Government Operations committee.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *