On November 9, 2005, The House Committee on Resources held hearings on Republican Representative Richard W. Pombo's draft legislation that would amend the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act to make it more difficult for tribes to build casinos on land outside the boundaries of their respective reservations; however, the proposed legislation would make it easier for multiple tribes to cluster their casinos on a host reservation.
Back in September 2005, Governor Schwarzenegger announced controversial gaming agreements with the Big Lagoon Rancheria and the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians that would allow them to build off-reservation casinos in Barstow, California. Senator Dean Florez, a Kern County Democrat, has introduced legislation (SB 1013) that would require a local advisory vote for any off-reservation casino site, and also a senate resolution (SR 20) that would prohibit senate ratification of any compact with a tribe that allows gambling on land outside the boundaries of the tribe's reservation or on land otherwise already federally approved for gambling.
The Bush Administration is seeking to make changes to the Johnson Act, 15 U.S.C. 1171 et. seq. to more firmly delineate the definition of a Class II game. Under current law, slot machines fall under the definition of Class III games, which are only allowed on reservations that have state compacts. In contrast, tribes have sole discretion to define a Class II game. The proposed legislation would make it more difficult for tribes that do not have compacts to run what are essentially slot machines under the guise of Class II games.
When the California Legislature reconvenes in January 2007, five of the state's most powerful gambling tribes (Sycuan, Pechanga, Agua Caliente, San Manuel and Soboba) will attempt to get their compacts ratified. The compacts would allow the tribes to add up to 22,500 slot machines, in one of the largest gambling expansions in state history.
On November 6, 2006, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard arguments from the National Labor Relations Board and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians (located 60 miles east of Los Angeles) on whether or not tribes are exempt from federal labor laws due to their status as sovereign governments.