03/07/2012 :  Tribal spokesmen use iGaming North America to stress that their collaboration is essential
 
The iGaming North America conference in San Francisco continued to generate mainstream media headlines Tuesday, this time from Indian leaders commenting on the legalization of online gambling in the United States.
 
Tribal land casino spokesmen emphasised to delegates that clarity on the impact of legalization on tribal gaming interests is required before the tribes will consider supporting legalization.
 
The chairperson of the California Tribal Business Alliance, Leslie Lohse, cautioned that internet gambling has cultural and economic implications that shouldn't be brushed off because others are in a hurry to start taking bets.
 
"What's going to satisfy us? That we really sit down and hammer out the nuts and bolts of this," Lohse said. "Really look at the impacts and not rush to the gold."
 
Sheila Morago, executive director of the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association, said tribes are still struggling with business declines due to the recession and are therefore leery of further potential threats to their gambling businesses. She said that tribal opinions about Internet gambling proposals are widespread and varied because current arrangements that allow for Indian casinos are complex.
 
"When you take one federal bill and sort of overlay it over 29 state compacts, you're kind of wondering how is this going to work," Morago said. "We can all agree that nobody wants to open up those state compacts."
 
Stephen Hart, a lawyer who represents tribes and tribal gambling commissions throughout the West, said tribes in California won't be eager to give up elements of their sovereignty, or exclusive rights to offer casino games.
 
"One would have to anticipate disagreements," Hart said.
 
Fox News reports that as many as 239 tribes operated 448 gambling businesses in 2010. California accounted for $6.8 billion in gambling revenue, more than one quarter of revenues from American Indian casinos in 2010.
 
Gambling revenue at American Indian casinos was $26.7 billion in 2010, up slightly from $26.4 billion in 2009.
 
Massachusetts Rep. Dan Winslow told a session of the conference that his state will probably generate a comprehensive proposal for the regulation of intrastate online poker by the early part of 2013 following extensive investigations by a Treasury-appointed task force.