Indian gambling as a Part of The Native American Tribal One

Congress established the National Gambling Impact Study Commission in 1996 and directed it to study and report on the economic and social impacts of all forms of legalized gambling in the United States, including Indian gambling. 1 To ensure that sufficient attention was devoted to this important and complex subject, the Commission established a Subcommittee on Indian Gambling to supplement the full Commission’s work in this area. In the course of seven formal hearings (in Del Mar, California; the Gila River Indian Community near Tempe, Arizona; Albuquerque, New Mexico; New Orleans, Louisiana; Las Vegas, Nevada; Seattle, Washington; and Virginia Beach, Virginia), and with the assistance of the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA), the Subcommittee received testimony from approximately 100 tribal leaders, representing more than 50 tribes from every section of the country. At the invitation of officials from the Gila River Indian Community, the Subcommittee visited that reservation and toured a range of facilities,including tribal housing developments, community centers, tribal government facilities, agricultural enterprises, and one of the reservation’s two casinos. In addition to the Subcommittee’s work, the full Commission heard testimony from tribal representatives, officials of the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC), the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and representatives of state and local governments at its hearings in Boston, Massachusetts; Del Mar, California; and Tempe, Arizona. The full Commission also visited Foxwoods, near Ledyard, Connecticut, the largest Indian gambling facility in the United States, to observe an Indian casino firsthand.

Large-scale Indian casino gambling is barely a decade old. Its origins trace back to 1987, when the U. S. Supreme Court issued its decision in California v. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians. This decision held that the state of California had no authority to apply its regulatory statutes to gambling activities conducted on Indian reservations. 2 In an effort to provide a regulatory framework for Indian gambling, Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) in 1988. 3 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 gambling¾which IGRA terms “Class III” gambling¾the 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.

1 National Gambling Impact Study Commission Act, Public Law 104-169. The charge to study Indian gambling is quite explicit. The Act provides: (1) IN GENERAL— it shall be the duty of the Commission to conduct a comprehensive legal and factual study of the social and economic impacts of gambling in the United States on (A) . . . Native American tribal governments, (2) MATTERS TO BE STUDIED— The matters to be studied by the Commission under paragraph (1) shall at a minimum include (A) a review of existing Federal, State, local and Native American tribal government policies and practices with respect to the legalization or prohibition of gambling, including a review of the costs of such policies and practices . . . . (E) an assessment of the extent to which gambling provided revenues to State, local, and Native American tribal governments, and the extent to which possible alternative revenue sources may exist for such governments. . . . Section 4( a) The Commission was also instructed by Congress to develop a contract with the Advisory Council on Intergovernmental Relations to conduct “a thorough review and cataloging of all applicable Federal, State, local and Native American tribal laws, regulations, and ordinances that pertain to gambling in the United States . . . .” Section 7( a)( 1)( A). 2 480 U. S. 202. 3 25 U. S. C. A. §2701-2721.