Gambling Facilities for Indian Tribes
the same period, from $9.6 billion to $20.5 billion in constant 1997 dollars.46 As was IGRA’s intention, gambling revenues have proven to be a very important source of funding for many tribal governments, providing much-needed improvements in the health, education, and welfare of Native Americans on reservations across the United States. Nevertheless, Indian gambling has not been a panacea for the many economic and social problems that Native Americans continue to face.
More than two-thirds of Indian tribes do not participate in Indian gambling at all. Only a small percentage of Indian tribes operate gambling facilities on their reservations. According to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), there are 554 federally recognized tribes in the United States, with 1,652,897 members, or less than 1 percent of the U.S. population. Of these 554 tribes, 146 have Class III gambling facilities, operating under 196 tribal-state compacts.47 In 1988, approximately 70 Indian casinos and bingo halls were operating in a total of 16 states; in 1998, approximately 298 facilities were operating in a total of 31 states.48
For the majority of tribal governments that do run gambling facilities, the revenues have been modest yet nevertheless useful. Further, not all gambling tribes benefit equally. The 20 largest Indian gambling facilities account for 50.5 percent of total revenues, with the next 85 accounting for 41.2 percent.49 Additionally, not all gambling facilities are successful. Some tribes operate their casinos at a loss and a few have even been forced to close money-losing facilities. Only a limited number of independent studies exist regarding the economic and social impact of Indian gambling. Some have found a mixture of positive and negative results of the impact of gambling on reservations,50 whereas others have found a positive economic impact for the tribal governments, its members and the surrounding communities.51 This is an area greatly in need of further research. However, it is clear from the testimony that the Subcommittee received that the revenues from Indian gambling have had a significant, and generally positive, impact on a number of reservations. PARI-MUTUEL WAGERING The pari-mutuel industry, so called for the combining of wagers into a common pool,