Native American Casinos
The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act represents one of the biggest failures of U.S. policy in the last fifty years. Passed by Congress in 1988 under the guise of “economic development” for the country’s impoverished Native American tribes, IGRA has resulted in the transfer of tens of billions of dollars to casino operators while many Native Americans still remain in serious poverty. It also has been a driving force behind the massive expansion of predatory gambling that has overwhelmed the U.S. over the last twenty years.
Casinos are the most predatory business in the country and their business model is based on addiction and pushing people into debt – a truth that remains unchanged regardless whether they are commercial casinos or Native American casinos.
Tribal casinos mostly benefit the casino operators, not the tribes
This 2012 Associated Press story below spotlights how many tribes have not benefited long-term from casinos, despite the fact that the Indian Gambling Regulatory Act of 1988 was passed in the name of helping Native Americans advance economically. This excerpt says it all:
“Of more than 500 American Indian tribes across the country, 124 have notified the U.S. Interior Department of intent to share gambling revenue with members, according to the Indian Gaming Office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. But government officials say they take a hands-off approach and do not know how many actually make payments or how much they share.
Valerie Red-Horse, a financial analyst familiar with Indian casinos, said some tribes have probably paid out too much, but the distributions often barely meet the needs of tribes who live on distant reservations with meager resources and limited access to government services.”
Portrait of Poverty in Oregon
Native Americans in Oregon have the state’s highest overall poverty rate, 29.4 percent. The report concludes that “given this high rate of poverty, it’s obvious that constructing gambling casinos hasn’t worked in bringing Oregon’s 40,700 Native Americans out of poverty.”
Gary Braden, executive director of the Native American Rehabilitation Association NW Inc. in Portland, said “The idea that the casinos have made all Native Americans rich is a myth.” The unemployment rate among members of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation remains about 20 percent despite the tribe’s Wildhorse Casino, said Debra Crosswell, the tribal public affairs manager.
Tribes Not Winning Out Under Casinos
This blog post from TruthOut.org points out the devastating economic conditions that still exist on Native American reservations and how casinos will not solve the problem.
The Longest Odds
This news story from Willamette Week explores how hundreds of millions in casino dollars haven’t lifted Oregon’s Native Americans out of poverty.
The Inevitability of Tribal Casinos Not Being Inevitable
Attorney Stephanie A. Levin spotlights a common tactic used by predatory gambling promoters: they misrepresent Indian gambling law to sway a skeptical public about the need for the state to act quickly to legalize casinos before Native American tribes build their own.
Indian Casinos: Wheel of Misfortune
This 2002 article from Time investigates the levels of fraud, corruption and intimidation in America’s Indian casinos. The writers also highlight that the tribes’ “secrecy about financial affairs – and the complicity of government oversight agencies – has guaranteed that abuses in Indian country growing out of the surge in gaming riches go undetected, unreported and unprosecuted.”
An Examination of Indian Casinos in Western New York
This report suggests that an expanded casino in the Buffalo-area will be a “huge money-sucking vacuum” for a city already struggling with high poverty. It was presented on February 15, 2011 to the Legislation Committee of the Buffalo Common Council, by Professor Steve H. Siegel, of the College of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Niagara University.
Native American Tribes and Payday Lenders Partnering to Avoid Oversight
To help “broaden” their portfolio, some Native American tribes are now partnering with pay day lenders to allow such companies to circumvent state laws in nearly 20 states, according to a recent report by the Center for Public Integrity.
Well-intended people have been talking about alternate economic solutions for Native American tribes for more than twenty years. Yet there is no sense of urgency for these Native American tribes to change their predatory business partnerships and, as evidenced by their entrance into the payday lending arena, the situation is getting worse.
Consumer Bureau ‘Zoning In’ on Tribal Payday Firms
The U.S Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is cracking down on players hiding behind Native American sovereign immunity. These players are abusing the power to run casinos in states where gambling is otherwise illegal, and also distributing payday loans in illegal areas.
Payday Lenders and Indian Tribes Evading Laws Draw Scrutiny
Due to sovereign immunity, the legal doctrine that restricts state interference in tribal affairs, many partnerships between Native American Tribes and federal regulators are being put under the microscope. These partnerships are drawing a lot of scrutinity given their allowance of predatory lending and finding loopholes in federal laws.