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Alaska Pull-Tab Operation Raided

2 July 2003

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – As reported by the Associated Press: “Authorities have raided a pull-tab operation owned by the Native Village of Barrow, fueling a long-simmering dispute between the state and village leaders who say they have a federal right to conduct gambling without an Alaska gaming permit.

“Alaska State Troopers and a gaming compliance investigator seized 2,500 pounds of pull tabs, a cash register, business records and other items Monday from the tiny wooden building housing the operation. Troopers said the state has received complaints about illegal gambling conducted by the Eskimo tribal group.

“…`We plan to open right back up in a couple of weeks,’ said gaming manager Mabel Kaleak.

“The raid followed a May 21 letter from Attorney General Gregg Renkes to the village that it stop the pull-tab operations or face legal action. The investigation is continuing and no charges have been filed, said Richard Svobodny, senior assistant district attorney in Juneau.

“The state contends the pull-tab operation is illegal because the village has not had a state gaming permit since 1999. It pays no state gaming taxes or fees and it offers prizes exceeding the allowable limit.

“Village officials said the issue is one of sovereignty. They said that as a federally recognized tribe they are exempt from state regulations. Thus they're not required to share profits with the state. Instead, they said, a great chunk of the $100,000 or so in yearly profits helps fund social services, including feeding low-income families.

“Authorities pointed out that the Native village doesn't have a federal gaming permit, either.

“…The village appealed, but last year a federal court judge agreed with the commission that the group doesn't have governmental powers over the land where it has held its gambling since 1994…”

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