What is an Indian Casino?
We very often hear about Native Americans and their casinos, but very few really know what it means. In reality, Indian casinos are gambling establishments like any other. With the only particularity that they are placed on a Native American reservation. The latter are lands belonging to descendants of native American peoples.
Thanks to specific laws and treaties, the tribes owning these lands have the right to establish a casino there and to draw revenue from it. After having taken almost everything from the peoples settled in America, the new Americans from Europe began to recognize the tribes to the point of granting them special rights.
For the sake of conscience, or simply to allow these peoples to better integrate and participate in the economy. The various political and legal authorities have ended up allowing Indians to own and manage their casinos.
Some tribal nations profited from these decisions. Until the gambling industry occupied a much more important place in the country’s economy.
Indian Reserves and Their Sovereignty
As Europeans colonized America, native populations signed many treaties under threat or violence. These agreements dispossessed them of their lands and forced them to leave them.
As the years pass, the United States begins to limit land transfers from native populations to individuals. The Office of Exchange proposed in 1764 a management plan. It read that only colonial governments could buy native lands. Sales should be conducted in public and supervised by Indian peoples. The proposal was never actually implemented. But it allowed the general ideas to evolve.
Many treaties are signed in the following years. Sometimes by the presidents in person. In 1832, the United States recognized the sovereignty of the Indian nations on the lands that remain to them. It still took another 100 years to get Congress to change the law. The latter made it possible to grant Indian reservations to their own government. It allowed the business on the reservations to be radically changed.
The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and the Boom of Casinos
Indeed, this particularity is very important. The reserves then escape the laws put in place by the States, including taxes. The laws on the protection of the environment, on labor and local taxes then have no power over the establishments established on the Indian reserves, casinos included.
After a judgment of the Supreme Court of the United States, Congress votes on the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. It allows each tribe recognized by the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs to open a casino on its reserve. It caused an explosion of the number of Indian casinos in the country.
Indeed, casinos can then quickly be created within Indian reservations. This, without being impacted by local authorities and state laws. They quickly became a real gold mine in the eyes of investors.
Indian tribes now own nearly 500 gambling establishments across the country. These represent a total annual income of tens of billions of dollars.
Some of these tribes live entirely from their gambling operations. The members of the Table Mountain tribe, for example. Each receives an income of around $15,000 each month in addition to bonuses. It depends on the income of the casino owned by the tribe.
The profits also make it possible to finance the education of children, to create schools, hospitals. Above all, to solidify the future of the Amerindian tribes thanks to investments in the form of donations to the various structures. Politicians, police departments and the media constantly receive these kinds of donations. They allow the Indian reserves to maintain good relations with these various departments.
What Are Indian Casinos Like?
Prejudices die hard and many still imagine Indian reservations and their casinos today, remembering cowboy and Indian films. However, some of the Indian tribes gambling establishments are among the most sophisticated in the country. They offer all the services that any other high-class casino offers to its customers.
In California in particular, where more than fifty Indian casinos produce nearly 5 billion dollars a year, some resort hotels are sumptuous.
Like the Pechanga Resort Hotel & Casino, located in Temecula. The casino of this establishment alone totals nearly 17,000 m² and more than 1,000 slot machines!
Their casinos are among the most popular in the country and attract many tourists every year. These establishments generate impressive income.
Some speak of a reconquest of Indian lands. What cannot be disputed is the fact that the native populations do not all benefit from the success of the gaming operations of their respective tribes. With so much power and money at stake, the managers of casinos and other establishments are not all transparent with the inhabitants of their reservations.
Even today, Native Americans are among the most affected by poverty, various addictions, unemployment and suicides in the United States.