National Indian Gaming Association Joins Fight To End Federal Sports Betting Ban
The National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) has become the latest member of a lobby group formed to campaign against the federal sports betting ban.
The American Sports Betting Coalition (ASBC) is brought to you by the American Gaming Association (AGA), the largest advocating group for the casino industry. The primary goal of the ASBC is to bring together law enforcement, policymakers, gaming industry officials, and other proponents together in order to repeal the ban on sports betting in the United States.
The NIGA, which represents 184 federally-recognized Indian tribes, works to preserve tribal sovereignty and achieve self-sufficiency through gaming. With the NIGA joining forces with the ASBC, the tribal presence that was missing will now be present.
What The NIGA Hopes To Accomplish
Tribal gaming is big business in the United States, with 244 tribal governments operating under the provisions set by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) in 29 states. In a report of the fiscal year 2016 provided by the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC), it was found that gaming revenues totaled $31.2 billion, which represented an increase of 4.4% from the previous year.
“As one of the key stakeholders in these discussions we want to ensure that if legalized, our members have the opportunity to offer this activity as part of their overall entertainment package and as an additional source of revenue for tribal government gaming to promote tribal economic development, tribal self-sufficiency and strong tribal government.”
The AGA also recognizes that tribal gaming has a huge economic impact and that the support of the NIGA is crucial for invoking change.
“We have a window of opportunity to get this done and the National Indian Gaming Association is critical to making it happen,” stated Geoff Freeman, CEO of the AGA. “Tribal engagement will help to move the needle forward and as the industry further unites, we will be able to end the failing ban on sports betting and allow our industry to grow.”
The Blueprint For Tribes And Sports Betting
Under the IGRA, tribal-state compacts are not required for any Indian casino that only offers Class II games such as bingo and poker. Tribal casinos offering Class III gaming such as slots and house-banked table games must have compacts in place. As such, lifting the ban on sports betting would require these varying compacts to be amended.
In states like California where Indian casinos have statewide exclusivity, lawmakers can take the route of amending their constitution to allow sports betting. Without commercial casinos, the main concern would be for tribal governments to protect their best interests. Revising the tribal-state compacts would be necessary to implement legalized sports betting.
“The issue remains whether tribes want to embrace that enhanced gaming, or if they do not,” stated attorney Michael McBride. “What is their benefit? Is it worth modifying or renegotiating compacts?
In other states with both commercial and tribal casinos, the move toward legal sports betting would be far more contentious. In these cases, the Indian casinos are not granted any type of exclusivity and their compacts may include language that prohibits certain types of gaming. The commercial and tribal industries would have to come to a compromise and revenue share agreements would have to be altered.
In the push toward legalized sports betting, the impact on tribal governments is not often taken into consideration. With the NIGA joining the Coalition, at least one major player in the tribal gaming industry will have a voice in how regulated sports betting at legal betting sites moves forward in the United States.
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