Though supporters are reluctant to admit it, the U.S. Department of the Interior's rejections of the applications to three tribes to take land in Barstow for off-reservation casinos brings about a likely end to this venture.

The Los Coyote, Big Lagoon, and Chemehuevi tribes had all applied to the federal government to put land in Barstow into trust, making it sovereign territory upon which the tribes hoped to build casino resorts.

The government, however, said no, but not for the reason some were expecting. Some other tribes in Southern California objected to the off-reservation developments, particularly the Los Coyotes and Big Lagoon plan, because the tribes lacked historical ties to the Barstow area.

However, the government argued a different reason for rejecting the application. Because of the distance from the reservations to the proposed casinos, the Department of the Interior actually felt the developments would have a negative impact on the tribes: "Because the proposed gaming facility is not within commutable distance of the reservation, resident tribal members will either: a) decline the job opportunity if they desire to remain on the reservation; or b) move away from the reservation to take advantage of the job opportunities."

This reasoning is an unexpected response, but there is logic behind it. The point of the casino monopoly provided to tribes isn't intended to be just a source of revenue, but also employment, a solution to multiple problems that reservations may face.

Of course, it's very insulting to members of the tribes, but then again, so is sticking them on reservations in the first place. But to that problem there is no solution unless the tribes were willing to abandon their sovereignty, which isn't likely.

For Barstow, this means the pursuit of off-reservation casinos is likely over, at least under the current federal administration. The tribes are threatening lawsuits, but we really don't see that going very far. It's time for the city to move ahead and expend its efforts on other developmental proposals for our community. We're out of chips and it's time to go home.