With the green light from a Florida court giving state lawmakers the right to pass legislation that would allow the development of destinations casinos, US Native American tribes are seeing red.

While foreign companies such as Genting Malaysia Berhad are trying to get a $3 billion casino built on Biscayne Bay, aka Resorts World Miami, and folks like Las Vegas Sands’ Sheldon Adelson trying to score his own Miami casino license and prevent Genting from breaking ground, Florida’s Seminole Tribe is shouting foul-play all the way around.

This Land is Our Land

Seminole Gaming CEO Jim Allen held a press conference this week where he reminded Floridians of the person on their state flag. “That’s a Seminole lady on there, that’s not somebody from Malaysia or Las Vegas.” The Seminoles signed a contract with the state last year giving them exclusive gaming rights outside of South Florida, and the tribe believes these rights put them at the head of the line if any new destination casino is to be licensed, and built.

In addition, last week the Seneca Indian tribe was voicing their concerns to pols in Washington regarding future online poker licenses. “The big US casino outfits are seeking to stack the deck in order to give themselves ‘an instant monopoly’ over US online poker,” Seneca Nation president Robert Odawi Porter told the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. He continued by asking the Committee to consider “if they really wanted to squash tribal sovereignty and tribal ingenuity by acquiescing to the powerful Internet gaming interests in Nevada and New Jersey.”

Porter continued his plea to the Committee in a civil rights-like manner by asking them not to put US tribes “at the back of the Internet bus.”  “Like land homesteaders and gold stake claimers before them,” he continued, “these Nevada and New Jersey moguls see Indian gaming as a competitive threat and are determined to shove Indian gaming away from the table or, at best, deal Indian gaming a short hand. That brazen power grab is premised on the fiction that the big Nevada and New Jersey interests are alone sophisticated enough to operate Internet gaming.”

Forming Alliances, Not Divides

However, two other US tribes are proactively taking matters into their own hands by exploring partnerships with operators of Internet gambling sites in the event online gaming is legalized in the US.

“The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation (Foxwoods) has been investigating the possibilities of Internet gaming given the significant momentum and discussion it has garnered recently in the U.S. As part of this, representatives of Mashantucket have spoken with numerous major Internet gaming companies worldwide to understand the business and analyze partnership opportunities,” says Bill Satti, Foxwoods tribe’s director of public relations.

Mohegan Sun, owned by the Mohegan Tribe, has also been in talks with online gambling companies.

“We have had and continue to have such talks,” said Chuck Bunnell, Mohegan Tribe’s chief of staff. “I think the entire industry is looking at what’s happening in Europe and in the U.S. as it tries to craft legislation of Internet gaming. Part of our due diligence is to prepare for that possibility.”

Do US tribes have a right to fight for exclusivity of certain resort casinos and online gaming rights, or should they work together with other European and US gaming companies? Let us know what you think in the comments below.


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