Indian Leaders' Repeated Warning On Online Gambling Legalization

Tribal collaboration is essential - stressed their spokesman at iGaming North America

The iGaming North America conference in San Francisco seemed a very convenient opportunity for Indian leaders to comment on the legalization of online gambling in the United States. Tribal land casino spokesmen emphasized that before the tribes consider the legalization support, precise impact of legalization on tribal gaming interests must be required.

Leslie Lohse, the chairperson of the California Tribal Business Alliance, reminded that internet gambling has cultural and economic implications which could not be swept off because others are in a hurry to start taking bets: "What's going to satisfy us? That we really sit down and hammer out the nuts and bolts of this. Really look at the impacts and not rush to the gold," he advised.

Oklahoma Indian Gaming executive director Sheila Morago explained that tribes are still struggling with business declines due to the recession, which makes them cautious of further potential threats. She also mentioned tribal opinions about varied Internet gambling proposals and complex current arrangements allowing Indian casinos.

"When you take one federal bill and sort of overlay it over 29 state compacts, you're kind of wondering how is this going to work. We can all agree that nobody wants to open up those state compacts," Morago added.

Stephen Hart, a lawyer who represents tribes and tribal gambling commissions throughout the West, confirmed the tribes in California won't be eager to give up elements of their sovereignty, nor their exclusive rights to offer casino games, summing up that: "One would have to anticipate disagreements."

One must be aware that gambling revenue at American Indian casinos was $26.7 billion in 2010, up slightly from $26.4 billion in 2009. As for California, it is accounted $6.8 billion in gambling revenue, with more than one quarter of revenues from American Indian casinos in 2010, and according to statistics 239 tribes operated 448 gambling businesses in 2010.

Massachusetts Rep. Dan Winslow announced a probability of generating a comprehensive proposal for the regulation of intrastate online poker by the early 2013, following extensive investigations by a Treasury-appointed task force.

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