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Native American Casinos History

1979 - Birth of Indian Gaming

The Seminole Tribe opened a high-stakes bingo hall on their reservation in Hollywood, Florida on December 14, 1979 and the state tried immediately to shut it down. This was followed by a series of court battles leading to a final decision by the United States Supreme Court in 1981.  The court ruled in favor of the Seminoles affirming their right to operate their bingo hall.

Gaming indeed isn’t new to Native Americans. In fact, it’s been part of our culture since the beginning of time. The Chumash people had two types of games: games that required skill to play and games of chance. Our ancestors often gambled on the outcome of the games. Each village had a special area, called malamtepupi, where games were played.  The Hoop and Pole Game, or payas, involved a ring or hoop made from a willow twig wrapped in buckskin that was rolled along the ground in a straight line. The player waited for the ring to roll by and, at the proper time, would throw the spear, aiming for the center of the ring.  Peon, or ‘alewsa, involved two teams of two or more players each. Each of the players of one team has one black and one white short stick or bone, which are hidden in their hands. The purpose of the game is to prevent the opponents from guessing which hand the white bone is in.

Shinny, or tikauwich, was one of the most popular team games played by the Chumash. The game required a square playing area of about 300 yards on a side. Each team had facing goal posts, and the players were armed with shinny sticks, much like hockey players. The object of the game was to put the small wooden ball through the opponent’s goal post by striking the ball with great force.

There are 474 American Indian gaming operations in the United States. These are owned by 243 of the nation’s 566 federally-recognized tribes. These gaming tribes operate in 28 of the 50 states. The annual revenue from all Indian gaming exceeds $31 billion and represents 43% of all casino gaming revenue in the U.S

Past Chairman Thomas Beauty & Vice Chairwoman Darlene Rubio working on the Nations

  • new Waste Water Treatment

I worked the Yavapai Apache Nation and was the Director of PR and Marketing.  A lot of American people do not understand the Nations of our Country.

1987 – U.S. Supreme Court Recognizes Indian Gaming

The United States Supreme Court ruled that Federally-recognized tribes could operate casinos outside state jurisdiction because the tribes were considered sovereign entities of the United States and the gaming operation must not be directly prohibited in that state.

(California v. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians 1988 – Indian Gaming Regulatory Act Congress passed the (Indian) Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) to establish the rules for the operation and regulation of Native American gaming.

The Act provides that a Federally-recognized tribe may conduct gaming activities within the limitations of a compact negotiated between the tribe and the state and approved by the U.S. Department of Interior.  Indian Gaming Regulation

Indian gaming is authorized by the Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). Under this law, any Indian tribe in any state can conduct gambling on Native American land as long as the type of gambling has been authorized for non-Native Americans.

The IGRA defines “Indian land” as either: 1). Land that is part of a Federally recognized Native American reservation, or 2). Off-reservation land that is held in trust for a tribe by the Federal government.

The IGRA divides  gaming into three classes:

Class I Gaming

  • Defined as “traditional tribal gaming and social gaming” with minimal prizes. This class is controlled exclusively by tribal governments.

 Class II Gaming

  • Defined as gambling played exclusively against other players and not the house. Examples are bingo, poker, keno, pull-tabs, punchboards, and other “non-banked” card games.  It is governed by a tribal ordinance that must meet federal guidelines and be approved by the National Native American Gaming Commission.

Class III Gaming

  • Defined as gambling played against the house, sometimes referred to as Vegas-style gambling. Includes slot machines, blackjack, craps, roulette, and “all forms of gaming that are not class I gaming or class II gaming.”  Tribes negotiate a gaming compact with the government of the state in which it is located. The compacts ensure the gambling complies with state laws.

Government Agencies

  • Indian Gaming Commission
  • The NIGC was established by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 as a Federal agency to investigate, audit, review, and approve Indian gaming ordinances.

Bureau of Indian Affairs

  • The Bureau of Indian Affairs handles the administration and management of 55.7 million acres of land held in trust by the United States for Native American tribes and Alaska Natives. There are 562 Federally recognized tribal governments in the United States.

Committee on Indian Affairs

  • This Senate committee has jurisdiction to study the unique problems of Native American, Native Hawaiian and Alaska Native peoples, including economic development, land management, trust responsibilities, education, health care, and claims against the United States.

National Indian Gaming Association

  • The National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) is a non-profit Indian gaming association of tribal members and industry members. Its mission is to protect the welfare of tribes seeking self-sufficiency through Indian gaming.