One overlooked aspect of preparing for US iGaming regulation involves turning your attention to Native American tribes. Many tribes that have long profited from brick-and-mortar gaming could now be positioned to generate revenues from legal iGaming. Native American affiliate programs could soon be a key source of revenue for affiliates. Here’s what you need to understand about Native American tribes and how they work.

California Connection

The state with the best prospects for creating some form of legal iGaming which would be significantly controlled by Native American tribes is California. While Nevada and New Jersey seem to be ahead of California in the race to legalize iGaming, both of those states’ iGaming frameworks would be ran by large casino companies.

Home to over 100 of the 565 federally-recognized Native American tribes, California is the logical spot to watch for eventual Native American affiliate programs. A majority of these California tribes have a gaming compact with the state and thus could be in contention for an iGaming license at some point in the future.

Related: Preparing for US Regulation: A Legal Overview & Vital Practices webinar by Professor I. Nelson Rose and iGaming veteran Warren Jolly.

Federal Focus

Native American tribes are no doubt piqued with interest at how they can be included in the U.S. iGaming conversation. However, their attention seems to remain focused at the federal level while the state-by-state legalization train continues rolling.

Recently, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs convened an oversight hearing on tribal gaming. Prior to the hearing, the committee released a draft of the Tribal Online Gaming Act of 2012. Keeping their fingers crossed for a piece of federal iGaming legislation is the best chance for tribes like the Mohegans, based in Connecticut, to get their slice of the pie since no momentum exists for legislation within their own state. These hopes, however, may be futile for the foreseeable future.

bwin.party’s Tribal Alliance

One iGaming company that has seen the writing on the wall in the U.S. is bwin.party. Recently, they teamed up with the United Tribe of Auburn to secure a partnership to offer online poker in the state of California if and when it is legal for them to do so. It’s a smart move by bwin.party and the United Auburn Indian Community, California’s largest tribal interest, as the state alone is the 8th largest economy in the world.

California’s current piece of iGaming legislation would permit any Native American tribe that is federally recognized and currently operating in the gaming space within the state to seek a license to offer online poker. In this regard, California’s bill is very limiting in which entities it will permit to acquire an online poker license. If legal online poker does reach California, it will be highly advantageous for affiliates and Native American tribes alike to work with one another.


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