Historical Facts about Native American Tribal Gambling and Large-scale Indian casino
no time and money at non-gambling locations. Thus, there is often little boost to the local tourist industry in the form of hotel occupancy, retail sales, increased patronage at restaurants, etc.39 The key to large-scale tourism development is inducing gamblers to stay a least one night, and preferably more, which requires attracting individuals from beyond the radius of an easy roundtrip by car. Becoming such a “destination” resort, including the lucrative market of mainstream conventioneers, however, involves considerably more investment of capital than has been the case with the vast majority of riverboats, including the creation of an infrastructure of non-gambling-related attractions, such as golf courses and theme parks, as well as airports and highways.
Some critics assert that riverboat casinos that draw their customers primarily from the local population have a regressive economic impact on the community because the profits go to owners outside of the community and the benefits of taxes raised locally are distributed throughout the state. The possibility of a regressive impact becomes more clouded when placed in the context of economic development. Riverboat casinos have often been located in poorer neighborhoods with the specific intention of stimulating economic development there.
However, some observers contend that, as a result, a disproportionate amount of the casino’s winnings are drawn from residents of this same community who tend to be poorer and less educated than the state average, thereby hurting the very people the riverboat casino was intended to help.40 According to one critic, casinos have drawn monetary resources away from depressed communities and away from individuals who are economically poor-those who can least afford the costs of gambling.
NATIVE AMERICAN TRIBAL GAMBLING41
Large-scale Indian casino gambling is barely a decade old. Most Native American tribal gambling started after 1987, when the United States Supreme Court issued a “landmark decision”42 in California v. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians. This decision, in effect, confirmed the inability of states to regulate commercial gambling on Indian reservations.43 In an effort to provide a regulatory framework for Indian gambling, Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) in 1988.44 IGRA provides a statutory basis for the regulation of Indian gambling, specifying several mechanisms and procedures and including the requirement that the revenues from gambling be used to promote the economic development and welfare of tribes. For casino gambling-which IGRA terms “Class III” gambling-the legislation requires tribes to negotiate a compact with their respective states, a provision that has been a continuing source of controversy and which will be discussed at length later in this chapter.
The result of those two developments was a rapid expansion of Indian gambling. From 1988, when IGRA was passed, to 1997, tribal gambling revenues grew more than thirty-fold, from $212 million to $6.7 billion.45 (See Figure 2-2.) By comparison, the revenues from non-Indian casino gambling (hereinafter termed “commercial gambling”) roughly doubled over