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Feds ditch rule that foiled Indian casino plans

ALBANY — The Obama administration has rescinded a rule that blocked Indian tribes from building casinos far from their reservations.

Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Larry Echo Hawk announced the policy change Tuesday to tribal leaders at the National Congress of American Indians in Milwaukee.

The change overturns the so-called commutability rule, created during the Bush administration. The rule says a casino beyond reasonable commuting distance from a tribe’s reservation was damaging to life on the reservation because its residents would move to follow the new jobs. The rule was used in denying casino plans for New York’s Catskills.

Echo Hawk said the rule was unnecessary and was issued without the benefit of tribal consultation.