Gambling has a very special place in the DNA and culture of the United States. In such a vast country, with such a large mix of populations, an area like gambling can very quickly become sensitive and often requires important decisions from the highest authorities.
You know Nevada, Las Vegas and its 120 casinos, and while you may have heard of Native American casinos, you probably underestimate their importance in the American landscape.
In this article, Lucky7Bonus took a look at the subject of Native American tribal owned gaming facilities in the United States.
What is an Indian casino?
We hear a lot about American Indians and their casinos, but very few people really know what they are. In reality, Indian casinos are gambling establishments like any other, with the only difference being that they are located on a Native American reservation. These are lands belonging to descendants of native American peoples.
Thanks to special laws and treaties, the tribes that own these lands have the right to set up a casino there and make money from it. After having taken almost everything from the peoples settled in America, the new Americans who came from Europe began to recognize the tribes to the point of granting them special rights. Out of a sense of conscience, or simply to allow these peoples to better integrate and participate in the economy, the various political and legal bodies eventually allowed the Indians to own and operate their casinos.
Some tribal nations benefited from these decisions, until the gambling industry became a much larger part of the country's economy.
Indian reservations and their sovereignty
As Europeans colonized America, the native populations signed numerous treaties under duress, threat or violence. These agreements dispossessed them of their land and forced them to leave it.
As the years passed, the United States began to limit the transfer of land from native populations to private individuals. The Bureau of Trade proposed a management plan in 1764 that provided that only colonial governments could purchase native lands. Sales should be conducted in public and supervised by the Indian people. Although the proposal was never actually implemented, it allowed general ideas to evolve.
Many treaties were signed in the following years, sometimes by presidents themselves, and in 1832 the United States recognized the sovereignty of the Indian nations over their remaining lands. It took another 100 years to get Congress to change the law. This change allowed Indian reservations to be given their own government, allowing for a radical change in the business set up on the reservations.
The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and casinos growth
The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) was a significant development in the history of the Indian gaming industry, as the reservations were exempt from state laws, including taxes. Environmental protection laws, labor laws and local taxes had no power over establishments located on Indian reservations, including casinos.
After a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which allowed each tribe recognized by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs to open a casino on its reservation.
Indeed, casinos can then quickly be created within Indian reservations without being impacted by local authorities and state laws, they quickly become a real gold mine in the eyes of investors.
Indian tribes now own nearly 500 gaming facilities across the country, with total annual revenues of tens of billions of dollars.
Some of these tribes make their entire living from their gaming operations. Members of the Table Mountain Tribe, for example, each receive an income of approximately $15,000 each month plus bonuses based on the revenue from the tribal-owned casino.
The profits also help fund education for children, schools, hospitals, and most importantly, the future of Native American tribes through investments in the form of donations to various structures. Politicians, police departments and the media are constantly receiving these types of donations, which allow the Indian reservations to maintain good relations with these different departments.
What are Indian casinos like?
Prejudices die hard, and many people still picture Indian reservations and their casinos today by remembering cowboy and Indian movies. However, some of the Indian tribes' gaming establishments are among the most sophisticated in the country and offer all the services that any other high-class casino offers its customers.
Especially in California, where more than 50 Indian casinos generate nearly $5 billion a year, some of the resorts are lavish.
Like the Pechanga Resort Hotel & Casino, located in Temecula, the casino of this establishment alone totals nearly 17,000 m² and more than 1,000 slot machines!
The tribal nations, recognized by the United States as independent domestic nations with their own legal system and operations, have been able to use these advantages to establish themselves at the right time in a gaming market that has been growing rapidly in recent years.
Their casinos are among the most popular in the country and attract many tourists every year. These establishments generate impressive revenues for small communities that take advantage of this to sustain themselves.
Some speak of a reclamation of Indian lands, but it is certain that not all native populations benefit from the success of their respective tribal gaming operations. With so much power and money at stake, not all casino operators and other establishments are transparent with their reservation residents, who have little opportunity to do anything about it.
Even today, American Indians are among the most affected by poverty, various addictions, unemployment and suicides in the United States.
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