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Working Effectively with Tribal Governments

Federal Indian Law and Policy

Indian Gaming law (continued)

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Since the passage of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in 1988, Indian gaming has undergone explosive growth, increasing from $100 million in gross gaming revenue in 1988 to $8.5 billion in 1998 and $25.1 billion in 2006. Only tribes recognized by the federal government may engage in Indian gaming. Approximately 225 of the 562 recognized tribes run some 400 operations, which range from the largest casino in the world to small weekly or seasonal bingo games in remote areas. Tribes conducting gaming operations are required under IGRA to use their gaming revenues to benefit their tribal communities.

Contrary to popular perception, the IGRA limited, rather than expanded, the power of tribal governments. IGRA's regulatory framework vests regulatory authority in the tribes, the federal government via the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC), and the state governments. In order to engage in the most profitable, Class III gaming, tribes must negotiate gaming compacts with the states where they are located. Among other things, a compact provides for the allocation of regulatory responsibility between the tribe and the state.



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