Indian tribes worried about state online poker

7 March 2012

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- American Indian tribes may not benefit from state-regulated online poker laws.

While seemingly everyone at iGaming North America was busy wondering if and when online poker may be legalized on an intrastate basis, tribes expressed concern about the effect state regulation might have on their gaming operations.

"It affects everyone differently," said Sheila Morago, executive director of the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association. "Tribes are still (hurting) from the loss of revenue from the recession. They are still wary about something new coming down the road."

Moraga said many of the bills would force tribes to renegotiate state compacts, which all have different revenue-sharing structures, she said.

She questioned how a federal bill would affect the 29 states that have tribal gaming.

For example, she said, both Arizona and Oklahoma have compacts covering all tribal gaming, while California has multiple compacts with individual tribes.

"We can all agree that no one wants to open their state compact," Moraga told tribal gaming executives, regulators and state officials at the iGaming North America conference at Planet Hollywood Resort, which concluded Tuesday.

Moraga joined other tribal gaming veterans for a panel discussion of the impact of online gaming policy on tribes. The three-day conference attracted about 550 people from around the world to discuss legalizing online gaming.

California Tribal Business Alliance Chairwoman Leslie Lohse said it would be difficult to get tribes to support new laws involving online gambling unless it was clear how the tribes would be affected.

"We are not just talking about a business impact, but it's a tribal impact," Lohse said.

She added that brick-and-mortar casinos have been very successful in helping tribes rebuild their communities.

Gambling revenue at Native American casinos grew to $26.7 billion in 2010, according to the Indian Gaming Industry Report produced by Casino City Press. That was up 1.3 percent from $26.4 billion in 2009.

Lohse called a proposed online gaming bill a "slap in the face" to California's 110 federally recognized tribes.

The proposed legislation, known as the Internet Gambling Consumer Protection and Public-Private Partnership Act of 2012, would legalize online gaming in California. The measure lays out a price of $30 million for each online gaming license, credited against net gaming revenues for the first three years of operation.

The measure doesn't limit the number of licenses, but does limit applicants to compact tribes, card clubs, horse racing and advance deposit wagers who have done business with the state for three years.

California expects to generate $200 million in the first year, said Stephen Hart, a partner in the law firm Lewis & Roca LLP.

Hart, who represents tribal casinos, said the measure would require tribes to "waive tribal sovereignty" to be licensed in California. He said tribes, which have the exclusivity to operate casinos, will "decline to participate if the waver stands."

California accounts for 25 percent of the Indian gaming market. In 2010, tribes in the Golden State generated $6.78 billion in revenue, down from $7.34 billion in 2008, according to the Indian Gaming Industry Report.

Hart predicted tribes would sue if the measure passes as now written.

Caesars Entertainment Corp. and other large commercial casino companies have been lobbying for federal legislation that would create one law overseeing online gaming and allow states and even tribes to opt in.

Moraga asked what would happen under a federal law if a state opts out and a tribe opts in.

"When you take one federal bill and sort of overlay it over 29 state compacts, you're kind of wondering how it's going to work," Moraga said.

Related Links
Casino City Press Gaming Vendor Information
Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association Gaming Vendor Information
Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino Details
Nevada Gambling
iGaming North America 2012 Spring Conference


Copyright GamingWire. All rights reserved.
Featured Vendors
Slot-Tickets Worldwide
The original OEM Internationally approved source for Ticket Out/Ticket In TOTI slot machine tickets
Preserved Interiors International
Specializes in preserving nature by providing high quality preserved palms & plants to casinos
Casino City Press
A leading publisher and distributor of casino and gaming business data and market research reports.
Sunkist Graphics, Inc.
Specializing in the creation of best-of-breed gaming graphics - slot glass, sign faces, and more
Slot Machines Unlimited
Exporter of IGT, Williams, AVP, Trimline, Aristocrat, Konami, Bally, & parts over 20 yrs experience
Star Games Parts And Electronics Corp
The solution for all your gaming parts and electronic needs
Grover Gaming, Inc.
Creates & licenses premium games for a variety of gaming markets including social and real money.
Gallant Background Checks
Shielding Tribes & Organizations w/ the latest employment background checks\drug testing technology
Nathan Associates Inc.
One of the oldest and most respected economic consulting firms in the U.S.
Magenta Research
The Leader in AV Switching and Extension.
RF Games, LLC
Remanufactured casino and bingo equipment - Mexico, Central & South America
Franklin International Gaming Corp.
Premiere importer and exporter of new, used and refurbished slot machines & casino equipment
Regulatory Management Counselors, P.C.
Over 35 years of experience serving the legal and regulatory needs of casino industry clients


Your Guide to 14,983 Gaming Industry Suppliers