Indian Gaming Today

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Will Legalized Gambling in Massachusetts Affect the Debate Over Indian Gaming in Connecticut? You Bet!

There are few states in which Indian gaming is as controversial as in Connecticut -- there, the Mashantucket Pequots and Foxwoods Resort Casino have drawn intense scrutiny and hyperbolic criticism. At the same time, of course, the revenue-sharing provisions of both the Pequots' and the Mohegans' compacts with the state have generated literally billions of dollars in state revenue. Last year, Connecticut's 25 percent take of slot revenue from Foxwoods and the Mohegan Sun amounted to $430 million, nearly 2 percent of annual state revenue. As in other states, Indian gaming also provides jobs -- some 20,000 of them -- in Connecticut.

Attacks on Indian gaming in Connecticut, such as those from Jeff Benedict, erstwhile expose author and founder of the Connecticut Alliance Against Casino Expansion, might be one thing, but competition from a neighboring state? That's a whole new can of worms. Some state leaders are now talking about how to protect Indian gaming in Connecticut, and showing more vocal support for the expansion of the Pequots' and the Mohegans' casinos.

Read more


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Interesting Article . . . .

Our friend and colleague Kevin Washburn has written an article titled, "The Legacy of Bryan v. Itasca County: How a $147 County Tax Notice Helped Bring Tribes $200 Billion in Indian Gaming Revenue." In the article, Kevin tells the story of Bryan, a U.S. Supreme Court case interpreting the scope of Public Law 280.

Bryan held that the grant of civil jurisdiction was limited to adjudicatory jurisdiction and thus did not "confer general state civil regulatory control over Indian reservations." Despite Bryan's clear language, states continued to assert civil authority over tribal lands. The jurisdictional contest came to a head over the Cabazon Band's high-stakes bingo operation, when California officials threatened to prosecute tribal officials for violation of state bingo laws.

In California v. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, the Supreme Court relied on Bryan to hold that while California could enforce a criminal prohibition against gambling on the Band's reservation, it could not enforce its civil laws regulating gambling against the tribe. Cabazon, of course, is Indian gaming's landmark case. It opened the door for tribal gaming to grow into what it is today -- a $25 billion industry that has far-ranging impacts on reservation quality of life as well as intergovernmental relations among the federal, tribal, and state governments.

Read the abstract and download the article (which is forthcoming in the Minnesota Law Review)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

“No Sioux Logo? No Sioux Casinos!” Shirt Sent Wrong Message

As some of you may know, the University of North Dakota (where we work) has as its athletic nickname the “Fighting Sioux.” This nickname, along with an accompanying “Indian-head” logo, have been the object of considerable contention, most recently culminating in a UND lawsuit against the NCAA for its finding that UND’s nickname and logo created a “hostile and abusive” atmosphere on campus. The federal suit was recently settled, giving the university a three-year window to seek permission from two “Sioux” tribes in the state to retain the nickname and logo.

Last week, the Grand Forks (ND) Herald reported on a T-shirt being sold by a company in Jamestown, N.D.

The shirt, which read, “No Sioux Logo? No Sioux Casinos!,” was critical not only of the settlement reached in the lawsuit between UND and the NCAA, but also of Indian gaming in North Dakota. As the shirt's creator said, “[American Indians] put their name all over a casino, which I think is addictive and destructive.”

Although people certainly are entitled to their opinions on whether casino gambling is good or bad, we think the T-shirt - which no longer is being sold, the Jamestown company announced Wednesday - was a powerful symbol of some all-too-common misunderstandings about Indian gaming.

Without specifically weighing in on the merits of the UND nickname and logo debate or lawsuit settlement, we wrote an op-ed which appeared in the December 10 issue of the Herald to provide perspective rooted in our research on the law and policy of Indian gaming.

Click here for our op-ed.

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Could Florida Have Negotiated a “Better Deal” With the Seminole? Steve Quoted in November 15th South Florida Sun-Sentinel

The Florida compact agreement continues to generate questions in Florida. Here’s a quote from the November 15th Sun Sentinel:

Steven Light, a political scientist and co-director of the Institute for the Study of Tribal Gaming Law and Policy at the University of North Dakota, said the [Seminole] tribe's robust financial health made it less desperate to cut a deal for Class III gambling.

The biggest factor encouraging agreement, he said, may have been the federal government's warning that if an accord weren't reached by today Florida might not get any money at all.

National gambling revenue statistics and studies show many Midwestern and Southwestern states are moving toward deals with tribes that bring smaller shares of gambling revenues, making it easier for tribes to expand their operations, potentially bringing in more revenue. Arizona has a sliding royalty scale of 1 percent to a high of 8 percent.

In that context, Florida should still fare well, even if it doesn't charge the high royalty percentages levied by California or Connecticut, analysts said.

"There is a tremendous latent demand for Class III gaming in Florida, especially when you have a continual influx of tourists and [snowbirds]," Light said. "Gov. [Charlie] Crist realizes that, and certainly the Seminoles have realized that for a long time. It wouldn't surprise me to see the revenue numbers increase dramatically."

Click here for the full story.

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