As ordered reported by the House Committee on Natural Resources on March 25, 2015
H.R. 308 would prohibit gambling (other than social games for prizes of minimal value) on property near Glendale, Arizona that is owned by the Tohono O’odham Nation and held in trust by the United States for the benefit of the tribe. That prohibition would last until 2027. The Tohono O’odham Nation is currently constructing a resort and casino on this property and expects to begin operations within a year.
Based on information from the Tohono O’odham Nation, CBO expects that if H.R. 308 were enacted, the tribe would pursue litigation against the federal government to recover its financial losses caused by the prohibition on gambling. Whether the tribe would prevail in such litigation and when those proceedings might be concluded are both uncertain. The basis for any judicial determination of the tribe’s financial losses is also uncertain. CBO estimates that possible compensation payments from the government could range from nothing to more than $1 billion; however, we have no basis for estimating the outcome of the future litigation. Because enacting H.R. 308 could increase direct spending, pay-as-you-go procedures apply. Enacting H.R. 308 would not affect revenues.
By prohibiting gambling on land that the tribe is currently planning to use for such a purpose, the bill would impose an intergovernmental mandate, as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA). Absent the bill, CBO estimates that the tribe will collect more than $100 million annually once the casino it is building begins operations, probably in 2016. Those costs would exceed the annual threshold established in UMRA ($77 million in 2015, adjusted annually for inflation) in at least one of the first five years after enactment of the bill.
H.R. 308 contains no private-sector mandates as defined in UMRA.