Local Communities and Other Positive Impacts of Indian Gambling

Tribal representatives often point to positive economic and social impacts of Indian casinos on neighboring communities. According to a study funded by five gambling tribes and presented at the Subcommittee’s hearing at the Gila River Indian Community:

In addition to… positive economic and social impacts on reservations, the available evidence also demonstrates that tribes contribute to local economies through taxes, revenue sharing, employment of non-Indians, contributions to local charities, and a myriad of other ways. Furthermore, the case study tribal casinos we analyzed did not appear to have discernable negative impacts on off-reservation sales or crime rates. 63

A similar view has been expressed by Richard G. Hill, chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association:

NIGA encourages all those who would disparage Indian governmental gaming to, first, add up all the benefits to their own communities from Indian gaming and what would happen to the jobs and businesses if Indian Nations and their economic development were no longer there. Those opponents of Indian governmental gaming who self-righteously speak about morality and “state’s rights” would have much greater problems to deal with than poor, starving Indians. 64

In many cases, local government officials acknowledge the positive economic impact of tribal gambling but voice concerns regarding other matters. For example, William R. Haase, Planning Director for the town of Ledyard, Connecticut, near the Foxwoods Casino, owned by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, stated that:

the three local host communities (Ledyard, Preston, and North Stonington), with a combined population of only 25,300, find it difficult to cope with the magnitude of Foxwoods Casino, primarily in the areas of diminished quality of life due to tremendous increases in traffic along local roads and state highways, deteriorating highway infrastructure, and increased policing and emergency services costs. Although confined to a 2,300-acre federally recognized Indian reservation, Foxwoods has expanded so rapidly that the host towns and Connecticut Department of Transportation have been unable to keep up. Fortunately, the adverse effects of Foxwoods are confined primarily to the immediate surrounding host communities, and problems diminish with distance. 65

Similarly, Supervisor Dianne Jacob of San Diego, California, while noting that her county government “has had some success in establishing a government-to-government relationship with the members of the tribes in [her supervisorial] district,” also pointed out that local governments incur the costs of law enforcement for gaming-related crimes whether they are property crimes that occur at a casino or more serious crimes related to individuals who have been at a casino. For example, the San Diego County Sheriff, who is responsible for law enforcement adjacent to all 3 of the reservations [in San Diego County] on which there is gambling, responded to almost 1,000 calls for service in 1996 alone. 66

62 Together, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Nation are forecasted to contribute $294 million to the state of Connecticut in FY 1999, of which $135 million will be redistributed directly to towns. 1999-2001 Biennium: Governor’s Budget Summary, Connecticut, John G. Rowland, Governor, p. A-3, A-7, A-12, 1999. 63 Stephen Cornell, Joseph Kalt, Matthew Krepps, and Jonathan Taylor, “American Indian Gaming Policy and Its Socio-Economic Effects” (July 31, 1998), p. 78. 64 National Indian Gaming Association Press Release (March 16, 1998). 65 William R. Haase, Testimony Before the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, Boston, Massachusetts (March 16, 1998) (Planning Director, town of Ledyard, Connecticut). Mr. Haase addressed the Commission during the bus trip to Foxwoods Casino and not during the regular meeting. He also indicated that the problem was less with the tribe reimbursing the local communities for the costs they incurred from the nearby presence of the Foxwoods Casino than with the state of Connecticut’s failure to share sufficiently the revenues it obtained from the same casino.