Since legalization by Congress in 1988, Indian Gaming has developed and grown over the decades to become a $34 billion industry. Today Indian gaming operates in 29 states.
|1979||Birth of Indian Gaming - Florida Seminoles open high-stakes bingo hall.|
|1981||U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Seminole bingo hall was legal.|
|1987||U.S. Supreme Court ruled California Indian card games are legal.|
|1988||U.S. Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA)|
|2018||Sports betting restrictions overruled by U.S. Supreme Court.|
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. (Ref: 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 gaming facilities 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. (Ref: 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.
There is more information about the IGRA in the next section.
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Indian gaming is authorized by the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). Under this law Indian tribes in any state can conduct gambling on Indian land as long as the type of gambling has been authorized for non-Indians.
The IGRA defines "Indian land" as either:
The IGRA divides gaming into three classes:
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 Indian 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 insure the gambling complies with state laws.
August 22, 2021
The National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) published a press release this week for the total gross revenues of all U.S. tribal casinos during fiscal year 2020. The 2020 gross revenue was $27.8 billion dollars. That number was down from $34.6 billion in the previous year. The drop was 19.5%, which is attributed to the impact of COVID-19.
Here is a copy of the press release.
2020 INDIAN GAMING REVENUES OF $27.8 BILLION SHOW A 19.5% DECREASE
WASHINGTON, DC - Tuesday, August 17th, 2021 - Today, National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) Chairman E. Sequoyah Simermeyer and Vice Chair Jeannie Hovland released the Fiscal Year 2020 (FY 2020) overall Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR) figure. FY 2020 revenues totaled $27.8B, a decrease of 19.5% over FY 2019.
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the FY 2020 GGR results. Unlike previous years, the NIGC administrative regions experienced a FY 2020 decline of more than 13% in GGR. The Rapid City Region experienced the largest decrease of 36.6%. Graphics are available for download on the NIGC website and highlight the decreases across all NIGC regions.
"This Gross Gaming Revenue decrease was expected; the unknown was just how much of an impact COVID-19 had on Indian gaming. Every year, the annual GGR figure tells a story about Indian gaming's successes, contributions to Indian communities, and economic impacts. This was highlighted even more during the pandemic. Nevertheless, tribes were on the forefront of creating standards, developing new safety protocols, and sharing community resources. I foresee this decrease as only a temporary setback for Indian gaming," Chairman Simermeyer said.
The GGR figure is an aggregate of revenue from 524 independently audited financial statements, of 248 federally recognized Tribes across 29 States. The GGR for an operation is based on the amount wagered minus winnings returned to players.
"Despite the limits and uncertainty of the last year, it is important to focus on the sacrifices of and economic refuge provided by tribes and the community impacts. Tribal gaming has shown resilience and commitment, and continues to develop new roads to economic stability. I look forward to seeing Indian gaming continue to lead the way in efforts to reduce the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," Vice Chair Hovland said.
March 18, 2021
As the Covid-19 pandemic began spreading across our nation last year, its impact became the most deadly in our tribal communities. Tribal economies also collapsed as casinos were shut down depriving funding for health care, education, housing, elder programs and other member services.
A study by the Color of Coronavirus project published the following death rates by race:
Deaths per 100,000 people
256.0 deaths Native Americans
179.8 deaths Black Americans
176.6 deaths Pacific Islander Americans
150.2 deaths White Americans
147.3 deaths Latino Americans
96.0 deaths Asian Americans
The tribal economies lost an estimated $10 billion in casino revenues resulting in voluntary shutdowns followed by reopenings at limited capacity. These revenues were needed for social and welfare programs by members in Indian gaming tribes. Many other tribes do not own casinos, and these tribes outnumber those that do. The non-gaming tribes have suffered the most.
The worst cases are hopefully ending now as vaccinations and financial relief are expected soon to help everyone in need. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 was passed and signed into law last week. That legislation will provide $31.2 billion in financial relief across all Native American communities.
January 3, 2021
Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M. has been nominated by President-elect Joe Biden to be the next Secretary of Interior. She is the first Native American ever nominated for that cabinet post.
In 2018 Deb Haaland from the Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico and Sharice Davids from the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin became the first two Native American women elected to Congress. Haaland has been serving as the vice-chair of the House Natural Resources Committee and the chair of a subcommittee on national parks, forests and public lands.
Since her nomination as Interior Secretary, Haaland has received congratulations, praise and support from tribal leaders, organizations and officials across the nation.
Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation President Bernadine Burnette said:
"Today is a historic day for the nomination of Rep. Deb Haaland as Secretary of the Interior. It is a humble and great day to have our Native sister with her teachings and respect for the land be nominated. We women tribal leaders have long served our communities, so we know what to do, and it is fitting for her. We send our prayers, protection and congratulations as Deb Haaland officially becomes Secretary of the Interior."
Gila River Indian Community Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis said:
"President-elect Biden said Indian Country will have a seat at the table - and now - the person across the table from us will be a Native American. It is a proud day for the Gila River Indian Community and Indian Country."
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said:
"It is truly a historic and unprecedented day for all Indigenous people as Congresswoman Deb Haaland has been selected to head one of the largest federal agencies, which oversees the BIA and BIE, at the highest level of the federal government."
Rep. Tom O'Halleran, D-Ariz, said:
"As the first Native American to head the department, she will bring unparalleled knowledge and empathy to the role, assisting tribal communities, protecting our public lands, and addressing the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women."
Haaland's nomination requires a confirmation vote in the U.S. Senate after the Biden administration takes office.
December 12, 2020
The National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) issued a report this week showing the total Indian gaming revenues across our country reach $34.6B during the last fiscal year. This is a 2.5% increase over the previous year, and marks the highest rate of increase since the beginning of Indian gaming in 1988.
The report period ended prior to this year's shutdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting NIGC Vice Chair Isom-Clause to state:
"While we welcome this positive report from FY2019, we know that the current reality is dramatically different. Future reports will reflect the effects of the pandemic on the industry, as well as how it continues to adapt to changing circumstances. Despite these current hardships, Indian gaming, like the tribal nations it benefits, has proved its resiliency over the years."
April 8, 2020
During the past two weeks the Indian gaming industry across the nation has effectively shut down for the coronavirus pandemic. The economic impact of the closures is becoming increasinly painful to the tribes and their members.
Today a report was released showing the financial losses to tribal gaming over the past two weeks of the shut-downs.
During the first two weeks of closure, Meister Economic Consulting has estimated significant losses directly at tribal casinos:
$1.5 billion in lost economic activity (i.e., gaming and non-gaming revenue to casinos);
296,000 people out of work;
$332 million in lost wages;
$240 million in lost taxes and revenue sharing received by federal, state, and local governments
Read the full report titled "Coronavirus Impact on Tribal Gaming" by visiting Meister Economic Consulting.
April 7, 2020
Native American tribes have been impacted extremely hard by the coronavirus pandemic, and many have lost their primary source of income with the closure of casinos. The CARES Paycheck Protection Plan excluded Indian casinos
As tribes desperately sought federal help, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a special program to relieve Native Americans housing costs related to the coronavirus pandemic. HUD will distribute $200 million in grants to tribes in need.
HUD Secretary Ben Carson issued this statement:
"When President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act into law, he wanted to ensure that American Indian Tribes received the assistance they needed to combat the coronavirus. HUD remains committed to providing tribes with the tools they need during this national emergency to continue to create safe, affordable housing opportunities for their communities."
September 17, 2019
February 3, 2020
The National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) published a new document last week regarding sports betting and compliance with Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). The document states the following purpose and issues:
The purpose of this bulletin is to provide guidance for tribes considering the operation of any sports books on Indian lands. Before conducting any type of Class III gaming on Indian lands, a tribe must have a compact approved by the Department of the Interior. Sports betting is defined as Class III gaming,1 so each tribe should review its compact to determine whether sports betting is allowed. If a tribe does not have an approved compact that allows for sports betting, the tribe and respective state must adopt or amend the compact to include sports betting on Indian lands.
To read the entire NIGC document, visit IGRA and Sports Book Operations.
For Immediate Release
National Indian Gaming Commission
2018 INDIAN GAMING REVENUES OF $33.7 BILLION SHOW A 4.1% INCREASE
WASHINGTON, DC - Thursday, September 12, 2019 - Today, Vice Chair Kathryn Isom-Clause, and Associate Commissioner E. Sequoyah Simermeyer of the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) released the Fiscal Year 2018 Gross Gaming Revenue numbers. FY 2018 revenues total $33.7B, an overall increase of 4.1% over FY 2017.
The GGR for FY 2018 is the highest in Indian gaming history; and, unlike previous years, all of the NIGC's administrative regions experienced positive growth in FY 2018. The Portland Region showed the highest growth, with an 8.2% increase, followed by the Oklahoma City Region with a 7.3% increase. Graphics that show the growth across each of the NIGC Regions are available for download on the NIGC website.
"The GGR calculation process is an example of the partnership between tribes and the NIGC to ensure effective regulation for a successful tribal gaming industry," said Vice Chair Kathryn Isom-Clause. "These numbers reaffirm the industry's health as a stable economic driver for Indian Country," she said.
Revenues are calculated based on 524 independently audited financial statements, comprised of 241 federally recognized Tribes across 29 States. The GGR for an operation is calculated based on the amount wagered minus winnings returned to players.
"The annual GGR tells a positive story about Indian gaming's economic success and the industry's ongoing contribution to a strong economy. It also tells the story of how collaboration among tribes, industry and the regulatory communities can build a strong reputation for reliability and integrity in the GGR calculation," said Commissioner Simermeyer.
Source: National Indian Gaming Commission.
March 11, 2019
The combined revenues of all U.S. casinos, both Native American and commercial, is estimated at nearly $76 billion in 2018. Final numbers are pending and will be published in a few months.
2018 revenues for Indian casinos are estimated to exceed $33 billion dollars.
Indian gaming operates in 29 states. The leading revenue contributors were California, Oklahoma and Florida.
2018 revenues for commercial casinos were nearly $43 billion dollars, a 3% increase over the previous year. Nevada
Commercial casinos are licensed by 20 states. Nearly 28% of commercial revenues was in Nevada which did $12 billion dollars. The other major contributors were New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Provided by NIGC - National Indian Gaming Commission
June 26, 2018
WASHINGTON, DC June 26, 2018 - Today Chairman Jonodev Osceola Chaudhuri, Vice Chair Kathryn Isom-Clause, and Associate Commissioner Sequoyah Simermeyer of the National Indian Gaming Commission released the Fiscal Year 2017 Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR) amount saw an increase of 3.9% over 2016, totaling $32.4 billion.
The FY 2017 revenues are calculated from the independently audited financial statements of 494 gaming operations, owned by 242 federally recognized Tribes. The GGR for an operation is the amount wagered minus winnings returned to players. It represents earnings before salaries, tribal-state compacts, and operating expenses.
The annual announcement of Gross Gaming Revenue numbers for Indian Country provides a yearly snapshot of the economic health of Indian gaming. As 2018 marks the 30th year of gaming under IGRA, it is an opportune time to reflect on key policy principles that have helped create the successes of a healthy Indian gaming industry these policies include:
The preservation of the role of Tribes as the primary regulators and beneficiaries of their operations;
Recognition and utilization of Congress's stated intent and IGRA's built-in flexibility to promote technological innovation, such as the use of electronic aids in class II gaming;
Faithful application of the law that accounts for the unique histories and land-bases of Tribes and IGRA's built-in flexibility to allow Indian gaming on a variety of different types of Indian lands;
And finally, the primacy of the nation to nation relationship between tribes and the federal government and tribes, one that predates the US Constitution.
The consistent growth of the Indian gaming industry year after year shows how well tribes run and regulate complicated operations. By staying in its regulatory lane and supporting tribes as the primary regulators, the NIGC has supported the Indian gaming industry's entrepreneurial spirit and self-determination goals.
"All of Indian Country has worked very hard to maintain a flourishing and constantly growing gaming industry," said the Chair of the NIGC, Jonodev O. Chaudhuri. "The successes of Indian gaming in the 30 years since IGRA prove that the foundational principles of federal Indian law should remain at the forefront of any future public policy discussions," he said.
For more detailed data and information such as region-specific information refer to the media center tab under the Public Affairs division on the National Indian Gaming Commission website.
The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act created the National Indian Gaming Commission to support tribal self-sufficiency and the integrity of Indian gaming. The NIGC has developed four initiatives to support its mission including (1) To protect against anything that amounts to gamesmanship on the backs of tribes; (2) To stay ahead of the Technology Curve; (3) Rural outreach; and (4) To maintain a strong workforce within NIGC and with its tribal regulatory partners. NIGC oversees the efficient regulation of 506 gaming establishments operated by 246 tribes across 29 states. The Commission's dedication to compliance with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act ensures the integrity of the growing $32.4 billion Indian gaming industry. To learn more, visit www.nigc.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
June 25, 2018
After market research analysis, it is estimated that by 2024, online gaming revenue could total $96 billion worldwide.
It is being projected overall that mergers and acquisitions are the reason behind the trend of consolidation. Restrictions and regulations from the government and the increase of market saturation has been making the opportunity in the online gaming market highly competitive for companies. This has made it even more of a challenge for small companies to be successful int eh industry.
Market research also showed that there are two areas where smaller companies could expand into for the online gaming market. One of those markets is based on the increase world wide of personal electronics usage. Most people have more than one device that they use. In addition to their personal computer most there has been an increase in the purchase of smartphones, tablets, and electronic readers.
Most of the users of these devices are between the ages of 18 and 49. The amount of people around the globe that have access to these technologies has been increasing. Gaming technologies that support these types of devices is one avenue that smaller companies may try to use to take advantage of the surging gaming market. Another option would be for the development of gaming using virtual reality devices.
Countries that create an online gaming market have been having much success. Especially in the United States. One emerging issue in the online gaming market in the United States is that each individual state has their own online gaming regulation.
30 in 30: NIGC reflects on development of Indian gaming
Written by National Indian Gaming Commission
Published: 26 January 2018
From a $1 million industry 30 years ago to a burgeoning $30 billion economic powerhouse today, a look at the Indian gaming's development and impact under the guidance and support of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1987.
Thirty years ago this year, the United States Supreme Court decided the case California vs. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, upholding Tribes' rights to operate gaming on their lands. In the time since that momentous decision, Indian gaming has evolved into a $30 billion industry that is still growing. Indian gaming has become a major, and positive, economic force throughout Indian country.
Tribes began formalizing the Indian gaming industry in the 1960s and 1970s to provide a source of revenue for their governments. Leading up to the Cabazon decision, and in its immediate aftermath, debates about regulating tribal gaming arose. The compromise reached with Congress, in the form of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, drew from the prevailing goals of modern federal Indian policy to support tribal self-determination, self-sufficiency and economic development. IGRA provides a statutory basis for the operation of Indian gaming as a means of promoting and upholding those goals. It remains one of the most successful pieces of federal Indian legislation and has served as a catalyst for economic development, ensured Tribes are the true primary beneficiaries of their gaming activities and supported the integrity of the industry.
Indian gaming has positively impacted millions of American Indians and Alaska Natives and has proven to be a critical income source for many Tribes. For small, rural Tribes, who do not always have many economic opportunities to support self-sufficiency, gaming operations have been a lifeline to supplement the assistance currently received through federal funding. In many instances, revenue from Indian gaming has buttressed tribal program budgets, allowing Tribes to provide important services for their members and direct funding to other important tribal priorities such as supporting cultural and language revitalization, healthcare, education, housing and more.
Although tribal gaming varies in size and revenue, even the smallest gaming operations provide direct and indirect benefits, including jobs for tribal and local community members. Gaming has also served as a jumping off point for Tribes to diversify, leading to robust economic portfolios and success in industries that were initially not feasible. The Blue Lake Rancheria in California, for example, has invested gaming revenues in a community-scale microgrid with solar photovoltaic power and advanced energy storage. This operation increased the Tribe's workforce by 10% in addition to saving them $250 thousand annually in energy costs.
Tribes have always been the architects of their own success in the industry, as expertise and experience have developed, more and more Tribes are looking beyond their own facilities to the tribal gaming landscape as a whole. The Indian gaming industry has provided a powerful platform for Tribes to work together and share their knowledge, enhancing inter-tribal relations and further bolstering the well-being of Indian Country at large. The Mohegan Tribe, for example, has used their thirty years of gaming experience to assist a sister Tribe in Washington State develop and manage a new gaming facility.
Further, the industry's influence extends to surrounding local and state economies. It provides opportunities to some of the most underserved areas in the country, creating a platform for employment and business development throughout the supply chain from casino vendors to local gas stations, restaurants, and hotels. Additionally, Tribes give their gaming revenue to local emergency and social service organizations and to charitable causes, truly impacting countless lives. The Coeur d'Alene Tribe of Idaho donates 5% of casino earnings to schools throughout the state and was instrumental in the development of Kootenai County's first and only free public transit system, CityLink, with an initial $1.38 million grant and continued annual financial support.
As we look toward the future of Indian gaming, with its inevitable technological evolution and expansion, IGRA's purpose remains as relevant as ever. The policies and procedures of IGRA, maintained and implemented by the NIGC, have provided Tribes with the support, guidance, and protection to develop a healthy, robust gaming industry. The NIGC, with its unique expertise developed over the past 30 years, is vigilant in adapting to all industry advancements and working in tandem with regulatory partners to ensure a well-regulated gaming industry that supports tribal economic development, tribal self-sufficiency and strong tribal governments. These efforts in conjunction with IGRA's sound principles will continue guiding Indian gaming into a bright and prosperous future.
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