Trump Decries Indian Gaming -- Accusations Shock Those At Meeting
WASHINGTON - A congressional hearing on Native American gambling establishments yesterday erupted into a yelling match when casino king Donald Trump charged that Native American gaming is rife with organized crime and represents the "biggest scandal since Al Capone."
"Organized crime is rampant on Indian reservations," Trump shouted to a House subcommittee. "People know it; people talk about it. It's going to blow. It's just a matter of time. And when it blows, you're going to have some very embarrassed faces sitting right where you are now."
Trump also charged that Native Americans wouldn't be able to protect their casinos from organized crime, even if they wanted to. The New York business tycoon said there are too many Native American casinos and not enough people to regulate them.
Trump's remarks drew gasps and puzzled looks of disbelief from lawmakers and onlookers, many of them Native American.
"In the 19 years I have been on this committee, I have never seen such irresponsible remarks," Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., shouted back at Trump. "You have cast on the Indians in this country a blanket indictment that organized crime is rampant. You don't know this; you suspect this."
Jim Moody, section chief of the organized crime/drug operation division of the FBI, testified that his office has found no evidence of skimming, money laundering or any other criminal activity in Native American gaming.
"The gaming industry is a relatively closed industry," Moody said. "The vast majority are run as legitimate legal businesses." He said tribal controls make it difficult for organized crime to infiltrate Native American gaming.
More than 100 Native American-run casinos in 26 states have sprung up since Congress passed the Indian Gaming Act of 1988, which gave Native Americans the right to create gambling establishments on their land.
Native American leaders and their supporters have dismissed Trump's claims, saying he is merely seeking support for a bill that would favor his three casinos in Atlantic City, N.J.
The measure, introduced by Rep. Robert Torricelli, D-N.J., would give states the right to reject forms of gaming not permitted elsewhere in the state.
After Trump's testimony, before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Native American Affairs, Native American leaders lashed out at him, saying his statements constituted "economic racism."
Tim Wapato, executive director of the National Indian Gaming Association, said that while not subject to extensive federal and state regulations, Native American gaming is regulated by tribal councils and is "subject to more stringent regulation and security controls than any other type of gaming in the United States."
Subcommittee members said that while the Indian Gaming Act may need updating, it has given many Native Americans the means to rebound from years of oppression.
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