Indian Gaming Today

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Oklahoma Indian Gaming Revenue Ranks 4th in U.S.

In what might come as a surprise to the "average" person asked which states generate the most Indian gaming revenue, economist Alan Meister's influential Indian Gaming Industry Report (see information here) puts revenue generated by the 90 tribal casinos in Oklahoma as fourth in the nation. Tribal gaming revenue increased by 40% in Oklahoma from 2004 to 2005, according to Meister. For a brief analysis, see here.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Cabazon Turns 20

Twenty years ago, on February 25, 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in California v. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians. Cabazon was a landmark case because it kicked open the door for Indian gaming. At the time, though, no one quite new how significant it would be.

Today, the Cabazon Band's gaming operations look a lot different than they did in 1987. The modest bingo parlor and card room have morphed into the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, featuring "Las Vegas action" and headliners including Dolly Parton, George Carlin, Reba McIntyre, and Jamie Foxx. Meat Loaf will perform on February 25, two decades to the day after the Band won its landmark case before the Supreme Court. Paradise by the slot machine lights?

Check out our op ed on Cabazon here (and please excuse the newspaper’s editorial error in stating that Cabazon is 25).

A transcript of the oral arguments in the case is available here on the Oyez Project web site.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tribes as Goliath, States as David

Thread: Sovereignty

In our 2005 book, Indian Gaming and Tribal Sovereignty: The Casino Compromise, we discuss how the perspective that tribal sovereignty places states as a disadvantage does not adequately take into account tribes' legal and political status and is ignorant of some 200 years of federal Indian law.

Here's another example of an editorial decrying the "uneven playing field between federally protected, sovereign tribes and state governments" (and last we checked, states enjoyed federally protected sovereign status as well . . . .):

Law Governing Indian Casinos Needs to Level the Playing Field (Shreveport Times)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Dangers of Slots

Thread: Indian Gaming in California

According to this op-ed from the North County Times, the California community of Temecula has suffered because of the nearby Pechanga tribal casino, and if the tribe gets more slots, things will only get worse:

"Southern Temecula neighborhoods are no longer quiet, calm or safe. Traffic roars down a deteriorated Pechanga Parkway. Inconsiderate drivers and traffic accidents have become commonplace. Sirens wail throughout the day and night. Twelve-foot-high sound walls don't stop the noise. Drunken drivers are common. Theft and vandalism have significantly increased. God forbid we have to evacuate because the two creeks that border our community flood, there is a dam failure at Vail Lake or there is an earthquake along the Elsinore Fault through southern Temecula."

The op-ed continues,

"To be fair, the Pechanga Indians have participated in efforts to minimize their traffic impacts. Petitioning the Bureau of Indian Affairs to provide some of the funding for the Pechanga Parkway Bridge, contributing $4.4 million to the Pechanga Parkway widening project and paying into the state Indian gaming fund. However, it's hard to imagine how the tribe could possibly mitigate the impacts from a tripling (or more) of traffic."

Friday, February 16, 2007

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Wins Federal Recognition

Breaking News

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, which had been seeking federal recognition for over three decades, received word of its success on Thursday from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The tribe promptly acknowledged that it will seek to purchase land to be placed in trust for the purpose of opening a casino in Massachusetts. Tribal officials claim the facility could be open for business within three years –- but given all of the legal and political hurdles the tribe has to clear, pretty optimistic, we’d say.

Boston Globe: "Mashpee Recognition Near"

CBS Local affiliate: "Wampanoag Tribe Receives Federal Recognition"

NPR local affiliate: "Wampanoag Tribe Wins Recognition"

More coverage from

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Big Casino for a Tiny Tribe

Consisting of just 11 adults and 17 children, the tiny La Posta band of Kumeyaay Indians opened its casino, which features 349 slot machines, in January. Read the San Diego Union Tribune's coverage of the tribe's history and near extinction.

Is this the norm? Absolutely not -- most gaming tribes have much larger memberships. But it does provide an intriguing example of the exception.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

D.C. Circuit Rules that Federal Labor Laws Apply to Tribes

Thread: Indian Gaming in the News

Breaking news of significance to tribal employment practices in relation to tribes' sovereign status.

Read the coverage:

Read the opinion:

Thursday, February 08, 2007

California Issues Report on Tribal Gaming in the State

Thread: Indian Gaming in California

California's Legislative Analyst's Office recently released its February 2007 report, California Tribal Casinos: Questions and Answers. The report covers the state’s take on Indian gaming revenue in the state, tribal-state revenue sharing, and the state's power to enforce the Class III compacts.

The report is available at

Monday, February 05, 2007

Arizona Revenue Sharing Agreement Pays State Big Dividends

Thread: Indian Gaming in the News

According to the January 31 edition of the Tucson Citizen, some intriguing numbers from Arizona: Tribal casinos have channeled $250 million into the state’s coffers since revenue sharing began in 2003 after Arizona voters approved Proposition 2002.

In the last quarter of 2006 alone, the state’s 15 gaming tribes wrote the Arizona Department of Gaming a $15 million check. Overall revenue sharing increased 14 percent over the equivalent period in 2005. If you were an investor in the stock market, you’d love to see this kind of return -- especially since you didn't put up any of the investment and you don't carry any of the risk.

You’d also love the diversification required by tribal-state compacts: a large proportion of the funds goes to state school districts, as well as problem-gambling programs, emergency services, wildlife and tourism funds.

For the state, the overall growth in Indian gaming revenue will continue to pay off, as the compacts’ revenue-sharing terms are laddered. One percent of the first $25 million in tribal gaming revenue goes to the state, but once the net hits $100 million, the state’s take increases to 8 percent.

Sounds like the state of Arizona has hit it big.