Friday September 21,2012 : U.S. TRIBES KEEN ON INTERNET GAMBLING
246 tribes could participate in legalised online gambling
The Sun-Sentinel newspaper considered the impact of legalised US internet gambling on tribal groups this week, with Jason Giles, executive director of the National Indian Gaming Association, saying that many of the nation's 246 tribes are keen to get in on the ground floor of this potentially lucrative sector.
The NIGA represents 184 of those tribes, which gathered at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood this week to talk about gambling issues and what the future holds, with their major concern making sure they don't get left behind if federal and state governments approve online gambling.
"We all realize the future of gambling is the younger generation, with online gambling and mobile apps," Giles said. "And we don't want a state-run system to get out in front of us."
However, Giles is certain that none of the several legalising initiatives currently on-going will come to fruition before the November elections – a fairly safe prediction given the nature of American politics.
Indian gambling is a $26.5 billion a year business in the United States, the Sun-Sentinel reports – just a little behind commercial casinos.
"The top 40 tribes make 75 percent of the money," Giles claimed. That means about 200 tribes, especially those in the upper Midwest and lower-population areas such as Montana, are pretty much break-even propositions, he said.
Giles said his Association is worried about one proposal being circulated that would allow only casinos with 500 or more slot machines to enter the online gambling market.
"For us, that's only five or six tribes," he said.
Giles pointed out that in Canada the Kahnawake Mohawk Tribe has been successful in facilitating Internet gambling for international online casino operators.
"That's something that our bottom three-quarters could do," he said. Others could team up to create a greater mass of players, making for bigger poker tournaments, he said.
The NIGA exec said that the December decision by the US Department of Justice that the Wire Act applied only to sports betting had triggered renewed optimism, and one of the reasons for the topic being on the agenda this week at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino was to gather information on what the tribes wanted and prepare them to better communicate with legislators.
"We're not at the point to come out with any specific policy," he said.
John Pappas, executive director of the advocacy group the Poker Players Alliance, told the Sun-Sentinel that he would welcome the Indians' entry to the market if online poker is legalised.
"Those who are opposed are pretty short-sighted," he said. "This is going to happen."