H.R. 308, Keep the Promise Act of 2015

H.R. 308

Keep the Promise Act of 2015

November 16, 2015 (114th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact

Floor Situation

On Monday, November 16, 2015, the House will consider H.R. 308, the Keep the Promise Act of 2015, under suspension of the rules.  H.R. 308 was introduced on January 13, 2015 by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which ordered the bill reported by voice vote on March 25, 2015.

Bill Summary

H.R. 308 prohibits gaming activities on certain Indian lands in Arizona until the expiration of certain gaming compacts.  Specifically, the bill prohibits class II (bingo) and class III (Las Vegas-style) gambling activities regulated under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 within the Phoenix, Arizona, metropolitan area until January 1, 2027, when the compacts between the State of Arizona and tribes operating class III casinos expire.  In practice, the bill will prohibit the operation of an off-reservation casino in Glendale, Arizona, by the Tohono O’odham nation, a federally-recognized tribe with approximately 30,000 members and a reservation stretching from Tucson to the U.S.-Mexico border.


The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) of 1988 provides “a statutory basis for Indian tribes to conduct gaming on “Indian lands” and establishes a regime for regulating Indian gaming.”[1]  The law prohibits gaming on newly acquired land—(land acquired in trust after October 17, 1988)—subject to certain exceptions, which includes land taken in trust as part of a land settlement, restoration of land for a restored tribe, or the initial reservation of a newly acknowledged tribe.[2]  The law is designed to “balance the interests of the tribes, the states, and the federal government in Indian gaming and apportion responsibility for regulating it accordingly.”[3]

The IGRA divides Indian gaming into three classes: class I includes traditional or social gaming and is subject to exclusive tribal regulation; class II covers bingo and similar games and is subject to tribal regulation and oversight by the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC); and, class III includes all other gaming, including casino gaming or Las Vegas-style gaming, and generally can only be conducted pursuant to tribal-state compacts that must be approved by the Secretary of the Interior.[4]

In 2002, voters in Arizona approved Proposition 202, “a referendum to approve a tribal-state compact under which 16 Arizona tribes were granted a statewide casino monopoly with limits on the scope and location of the gambling facilities.”[5]   As part of efforts to build support for the measure, the tribes “agreed to limit the number of casinos within the state and in particular within the Phoenix metropolitan area.[6]  However, the Tohono O’odham nation subsequently began purchasing land in and around the Phoenix area on which the tribe wants to conduct certain gaming activities.[7]  H.R. 308 is designed to preserve the agreement between the tribes and voters in Arizona until the gaming compacts authorized by Proposition 202 expires.

According to its sponsor, “this bill halts a precedent that may lead to an expansion of off-reservation casinos and dangerous changes to the complexion of tribal gaming in other states across the country.”[8]

[1] See CRS Report—“Indian Gaming:  Legal Background and the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act,” April 9, 2012, at Summary.
[2] Id.
[3] Id.
[4] Id.
[5] See House Report 114-95 at 2.
[6] H.R. 308, Sec. 2(2).
[7] See House Report 114-95 at 3.
[8] See Press Release—“Rep. Franks’ H.R. 308—Keep the Promise Act—Passes Natural Resources Committee,” March 25, 2015.


The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that enacting H.R. 308 could result in compensation payments from the federal government [to the tribe for financial losses caused by the prohibition on gambling] “ranging from nothing to more than $1 billion.”  However, CBO acknowledges that it has “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.[9]

[9] See House Report 114-95 at 6.

Additional Information

For questions or further information please contact Jerry White with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 5-0190.