Native American Gaming

Native American Gaming

In the US, the IGRA and the federal policy goals were designed as a means to strengthen the tribal economy and government. On the flip side, in Canada, the law turns more towards provincial authority over gaming, and there are no clear guides as to policy goals to strengthen First Nation communities. The Supreme Court, in the so-called Cabazon decision of 1987, in effect removed virtually all existing restrictions on gambling on Indian reservations. What had previously been a relatively small and isolated phenomenon suddenly began growing rapidly. These tribes, both as collective units and their individual members, are wards of the federal government, which has a legal responsibility for their protection and the promotion of their welfare. As such, they enjoy rights, or suffer restrictions, not applicable to other Americans.

Additionally, the IGRA created a federal agency called the National Indian Gaming Commission that regulates all tribal gaming in the US. The revenue generated in these establishments was close to $27.1 billion in 2011 up from $12.8 billion in 2001. The regions with largest revenues in 2011 were Sacramento ($6.9 billion) and Washington State ($6.7 billion). The Native American gaming industry has been described as "recession-resistant", although tribes in many states saw revenues fall at a similar rate to commercial casinos during the Great Recession of 2007–2009.

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The Compact also unfairly favors state sponsored gambling over reservation gambling by requiring that walls be erected around gaming machines to separate them from all other areas of the gaming operation. California Indian tribes will be forced to bear an additional financial burden of retrofitting their facilities. A Native American tribe's ability to access the resources available through gaming is vastly different from commercial gaming or even that of a state. A very special relationship exists between a federally recognized Indian tribe and the United States. This relationship is granted in Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution and has been repeatedly upheld by the United States Supreme Court. As such, it is the federal government and tribes, unless other agreements have been made with a state, which regulate and oversee all gaming operations.

The revenues are exempt from federal, state, and local taxes, however there are exceptions. In the cases where the revenues are divided evenly and then distributed directly to tribal members, the federal government gets a nice cut. State taxes are often part of the agreements for large scale casinos. Indian reservation gambling generates more income than Atlantic City and Las Vegas combined. In 2009, this totaled $26.5 billion in revenue from 425 facilities, run by 233 tribes in 28 states. In 1987, in the Cabazon Decision, the Supreme Court ruled that as long as a form of gambling is legal in the state where the reservation is located, the state can't regulate activities on the reservation. This decision led to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which requires reservations confer with the state before offering any games that would be played against the casino such as slots or blackjack tables.

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Similarly, unmeasured confounders could have influenced both the development of a casino and the development of health-related community resources. However, we controlled for community-level urbanicity and tribe size, both of which could influence casino ownership and community resources. Third, our survey may not have captured all data on available health-related community resources; however, few respondents wrote in an “other” response that was not written into the survey. Fourth, this survey was not validated, and the results may be specific to the use of this particular scale.

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The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act is a federal law passed by Congress in 1988 to regulate gambling designed to benefit Native American tribes. Some tribes had offered bingo as a revenue source, but the Act opened up more complete gambling venues. Some large tribal casinos opt to enter into management contracts with experienced commercial gaming operators. Examples of these companies include Caesars Entertainment with casinos like Harrah’s Cherokee and Station Casinos like the Graton Resort & Casino.

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Indian tribes are sovereign nations under federal law, and states may not enforce their civil codes on reservations within a state's borders. After the federal government gave tribes more control over their economic development, some began operating gaming places that conflicted with state and local laws. A number of states challenged these operations, but a series of Supreme Court cases were decided in the tribes favor. To clarify the law, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was passed in 1988.

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The new bill still allowed tribes to open and operate casinos on reservations, but mandated that the tribes must have a Tribal-State compact with the state in which they were located. IGRA also clearly stated that the federal government had the power to regulate gaming. The Tribal-State compact allowed states to force tribes to pay a special tax on casino revenue.

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