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Brief History of Indian Casinos

1979 - Birth of Indian Gaming
The Seminole Tribe opened a high-stakes bingo hall on their reservation at 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.
(Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Butterworth)

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 by 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 Indian 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.

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act divides gaming into three classes:

Class I Gaming
Defined as "traditional tribal gaming and social gaming" with minimal prizes.
There is no regulation outside of the tribal government.

Class II Gaming
Defined as gambling played exclusively against other players and not the house.
Examples are bingo, poker, and other “non-banked” card games.
These games are permitted on Indian land as long as they are legal elsewhere in the state.
.
Class III Gaming

Defined as gambling played against the casino.
Includes slot machines, blackjack, craps, roulette, and "all forms of gaming that are not class I gaming or class II gaming."
Requires a compact with the state.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

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 American Indians, Indian tribes, and Alaska Natives. There are 562 federal recognized tribal governments in the United States.
http://www.doi.gov/bia/

Committee of Indian Affairs
This Senate committee has jurisdiction to study the unique problems of American Indian, Native Hawaiian and Alaska Native peoples including economic development, land management, trust responsibilities, education, health care, and claims against the United States.
http://indian.senate.gov

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.
http://www.indiangaming.org

National 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.
http://www.nigc.gov

Return to Indian Casinos.

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