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Chippewa Tribe Bingo Games need Governor Approval

The Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa (indian tribe) would not need a new gambling compact with the state to offer electronic bingo at a casino on the edge of the city, but Gov. John Hoeven would have to approve it, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem says.

Turtle Mountain officials are working to get state, federal and local approval for a casino just south of Grand Forks. The land would have to be converted to trust land to come under tribal jurisdiction. Stenehjem said the federal government might agree to the conversion but the governor could still veto it.

“It does require approval from the governor,” he said.

Tribe officials have been considering electronic bingo instead of slot machines because electronic slot machines are considered Class 3 gambling devices that would require a change in the state gambling compact. Electronic bingo is considered Class 2.

“There’s not much I could do in my official capacity to prevent a Class 2 casino of the kind they’re talking about,” Stenehjem said. Hoeven said a few weeks ago, through attorney Duane Houdek, that he considered electronic bingo to be an expansion of gambling in the state and something the Legislature would have to consider.

Turtle Mountain Indian Tribe Chairman Ken Davis has said the tribe might decide to put electronic bingo casinos in trust lands it already has near Williston, and between Minot and Bismarck. Tribal consultant Bill Johnson has said he believes residents of Grand Forks would support a casino when they have all the facts about it. Opponents have submitted petitions to city officials with thousands of signatures opposing the idea.

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