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Indian Tribes Express Mixed Views on Internet Gambling

At a recent hearing concerning online poker before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Native American tribes said that they want a share of the jobs and revenue produced should online gambling be legalised, but they don’t want to sacrifice their sovereignty.

At a hearing before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, tribal leaders expressed the importance of Indian involvement in any future legislation on online gambling.

The Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission, Ernie Stevens, has said that the tribes are united behind a number of core principles such as no taxation of tribal revenues. According to Stevens the current internet gambling proposals violate these principles.

Those in favour of internet gambling were concerned about proposals which would allow the Department of Commerce to regulate online gambling operators. It is important to Tribal leaders that the National Indian Gaming Commission continues to regulate their own operators.

According to the Indian Gaming Commission, last year a total of 236 tribes operated 422 gaming facilities across 28 states. This generated a total of $27 billion in revenue which easily demonstrates that the commission has the required expertise to regulate tribal internet gambling.

However, not all tribes are in favour of internet gambling. There is concern that it will be too much competition for their land based casinos. Glen Gobin, vice chairman of the Tulalip Tribes of Tulalip, West Virginia, said that “The Tulalip tribe sees the legalisation of Internet gambling as a direct threat to the economic growth in Indian Country” He went on to say there is no way the tribes would be able to compete with operators such as Harrah’s when it comes to internet gaming.
Gobin went on to say that “The proponents that seek to legalise internet gambling say it will create $41 billion over the next ten years. However, let’s not forget that Indian gaming will provide $256 billion in the same period.”

OCA News Editor

Jenny McKinnley is OCA’s financial correspondent. After spending years on the trading floor in both NY and London, she offers insight from the inside out on world financial news and events.