Senate Hearing Examines Web-Based Tribal Gaming
Tribal gaming interests let the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs know that they’re keen to be a part of the discussion surrounding Internet gambling in the US market.
Yesterday the Committee convened an Oversight Hearing on Regulation of Tribal Gaming: From Brick & Mortar to the Internet to hear what tribal leaders had to say on the subject. They also introduced a plan to regulate web-based tribal iGaming.
Tribal Gaming Act of 2012
Before the hearing, the committee released a draft version of a document called the Tribal Online Gaming Act of 2012. The draft document outlines the committee’s plan for regulating .
Specifically, the Act calls for:
- An Office of Tribal Online Gaming to oversee iGaming.
- A strategy for redistributing 1% of Indian Internet gambling profits with tribes that choose not participate in Internet gambling.
- It also included an outline for creating a regulatory body of National Indian Gaming Council (NIGC) endorsed representatives to issue igaming licenses; and create a regulatory framework for Indian tribes.
It should be noted that Act is still in draft form and is a long ways from being anything like an actual law.
Who Regulates Tribal iGaming?
Indian gaming interests are particularly interested, and somewhat divided, on the subject of who has the final say on online gaming regulations. They are, however, pretty united on the idea of keeping that power with the NIGC.
Testifying on behalf of those who want Federal oversight was Bruce ‘Two Dogs’ Bozsum, chairman of the Mohegan Tribe. Bozsum testified that a state-by-state plan would be prone to fraud and under-aged gambling.
Due to the size and popularity of their casinos, the Connecticut-based Mohegans are one of the richest Indian tribes in the nation. State-level regulations favor smaller gaming interests rather than big corporations like MGM or Bally’s.
Not All Tribes On Board
Testifying on behalf of tribal interests who aren’t in favor of Internet gaming was Tulalip Tribes Secretary Glen Gobin. Gobin has often stated his opinion that Internet gaming would reduce tribal gaming revenues and basically kill the goose that layed the golden egg.
Despite his opposition to iGaming, Gobin voiced his support of the NIGC and their ability to web-based tribal gambling.
Online Scratch Cards Attacked
Non-Indian entities were also on hand testifying in support of Federal oversite on online poker. Jon Porter of the the Poker Players Alliance (who was not testifying as a PPA representative). Porter voiced his opinion that state lotteries, specifically online scratch cards, should be kept out of the legal Internet gambling world.
Joining in the chorus was Eugene Johnson of Spectrum Gaming Group whose testimony also bashed state lotteries. He suggested that allowing state lottery monopoies in on the iGaming market would be harmful to Indian interests.
So far, there’s no word on when, or even if, the Senate will take up the Tribal Online Gaming Act of 2012.
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