Friday August 24,2012 : TRIBES DISCUSS INTERNET GAMBLING
200 attend discussions initiated by the National Indian Gaming Association
Internet gambling continues to attract attention from tribal gambling groups across the United States, and particularly in California, where an online poker legalization measure will run out of time at committee stage when the legislative session ends on August 31, plagued by tribal and commercial divisions.
This week the National Indian Gaming Association hosted a one-day Internet gaming meeting for tribal leaders and gaming industry professionals at the Mystic Lake Casino and Resort in Prior Lake, Minnesota on the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Reservation.
The meeting attracted over 200 delegates and generated lively discussion and exchanges of information.
Chairman Ernie Stevens said: “We are hosting this meeting to receive tribal leader input. NIGA and our Member Tribes have been engaged in this debate for 12 years. We will continue to stay on top of this issue, inform our Members, and, working as a united front,
“Indian Country will work hard to ensure that any Internet legalization coming out of Congress will fully respect tribal sovereignty, provide equal access to Tribal operations, and protect the rights of tribes under IGRA and in existing compacts."
He was followed by Ehren Richardson a CPA specialising in internal financial performance for Indian gaming, who told the audience that Internet gaming is imminent in the United States:
“As of August 2, the Pokerstars company have agreed to repay $731 million to end a Department of Justice lawsuit as a way to possibly re-enter the U.S. when Internet gaming is legalized. Illinois has launched Internet ticket sales. Playstudios and MGM Resorts have launched MyVegas on Facebook. The Muckeshoot and Pasqua Yaqui Tribes have announced their launch of social gaming as well.
“Zynga has spent more and more money to lobby states and federal governments for Internet gaming. Facebook UK recently launched Internet gaming for slots and bingo in their country,” he said, illustrating the vigour with which internet gambling is being pursued both within and outside the United States.
John Harte, of the Mapetsi Policy Group, spent some time explaining the online gaming discussion draft prepared by the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs at NIGA’s Legislative Summit in July , on which there remain tribal concerns.
Harte drew comparisons on parts of the draft with an online poker legalization bill authored by Nevada Senator Harry Reid which failed in 2010 to garner enough support, and conducted a detailed examination of those parts of the Indian Affairs proposal that conflict with NIGA goals and values.
However, he noted that the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs welcomes additional input and urged tribal leaders to voice their suggestions and concerns on the measure.
"It is important that the tribes are engaged and prepared if an online gambling legalization bill is introduced in the lame duck session of Congress this year," he cautioned.
Other speakers discussed the development and construction of regulations on internet gambling that tribal gambling groups should prepare.
Before dispersing, delegates were encouraged to engage with their individual state and Congressional political representatives to voice concerns and make suggestions on legalised internet gambling and its implications for treaty obligations and tribal gambling operations.
NIGA intends to continue to facilitate tribal gaming discussions, with the next gathering scheduled for September 18 at the mid-year conference in Hollywood, Florida.