White House examines new rules for tribal casinos

WASHINGTON, Sept 21 (Reuters) - The Obama administration may make it easier for Indian tribes to build casinos far from their reservations.

The White House is “rethinking” a policy from the previous Bush administration that off-reservation casino sites be within commuting distance of the reservation, a spokesman for the Bureau of Indian Affairs said on Monday.

The Wall Street Journal first reported that the administration was considering altering its policy to allow gambling far from reservations.

“It’s an important issue. It’s a controversial issue and they’re rethinking it,” George Skibine, a deputy assistant secretary at the Bureau of Indian affairs, told the Wall Street Journal.

Skibine said in an interview with the Journal that he expected a decision on whether to change the policy “fairly soon.”

A shift in policy could pose more competition for large casino operators such as MGM Mirage MGM.N, Las Vegas Sands LVS.N and Wynn Resorts WYNN.O. (Reporting by Rachelle Younglai; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)