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John LaFalce on Casino Gambling

Bruce Jackson has just posted this essay by former Congressman John LaFalce over at Buffalo Report:

On June 25, 2008, a gigantic struggle took place on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives involving casino gambling in the State of Michigan. That controversy and struggle is highly instructive on the question of the legality of casino gambling in Buffalo.

Two titans of the House, John Dingell (D-Mich), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and John Conyers (D-Mich), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, stood in opposing corners and came out fighting.

Rep. Dingell wants a casino in Port Huron, and doesn’t want the issue to go to the U.S. Department of Interior for its review. So he is trying to “legislatively” bypass Interior review, and permit casino gambling in Port Huron by mandating that the Secretary of the Interior “shall” take into trust certain land as part of a land claim settlement. The bill at least recognized that the land had to be taken into trust.

Rep. Conyers says he opposes gambling in principle, but also doesn’t want another casino in Michigan, which would compete with the casino that already exists in his city of Detroit. Conyers also argued it would be wrong to bypass the Interior Department’s review as to whether it should take it into trust, especially since he is confident Interior will render a negative opinion. An overwhelming majority of the House agreed with Conyers, and defeated the attempted bypass by a vote of 121 to 298.

So how is this relevant to Buffalo?

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