Exploring The Purpose Of The Indian Gaming Regulation Act

1440 words - 6 pages

When the word “Native American” is mentioned, the first thing most people will think of is Indian gaming. As many people know, only Native Americans can conduct gaming while people from other ethnicity cannot. This leads to the belief that it is an indirect way for the American government to repay the tribal government for taking their lands. This is partially true. The right to conduct gaming on reservations begins with the Indian Gaming Regulation Act (IGRA). Since its establishment in 1988, hundreds of tribes are able to negotiate an agreement with the governments to operate casinos on reservation lands. However, this is not the only intention of IGRA. Although Congress says that the real purpose of IGRA is to allow Indians to open casinos so tribes can support themselves, it is merely a set of laws that limits the tribe’s right on gaming.
According to Congress, the goal of IGRA is to use gaming as a mean of “[promoting] tribal economic development, self-sufficiency, and strong tribal government,” while ensuring that gaming is conducted fairly and honestly (“Gaming Tax Law and Bank Secrecy Act Issues”). Congress created this act for several reasons. First, they thought that Indian gaming was established as a way to strengthen tribal government, but tribes had been opening casinos solely as a way of making money for tribal government. Second, they believed that tribes had cross the boundary of the contract many times, but the federal government cannot do anything to them because the previous contract was not very clear on how tribes should operate Indian gaming. Lastly, they felt that tribes had been given too much power for being able to regulate gaming exclusively on their own without any prohibition from the federal or state government. Therefore, IGRA must be created to organize and regulate Indian gaming as a way of strengthening tribal government and economic development. It was also created to “ensure legality and to protect the financial interests of tribes” (Light and Rand, 44).
IGRA is viewed differently among the Native and the non-Native people. To many Americans, IGRA is a compromise between the American government and the tribal government because it enables tribes to support themselves, while it meets the Congress’ intention of opening more jobs to control poverty-related crimes. According to a survey by the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) in 2006, as much as 75% of Americans believe that Indians benefit from gaming (“The Economic Impact of Indian Gaming in 2006”). It is approximated that the tribal gaming industry generates $15.9 billion in revenue in 2003 (“National Indian Gaming Association”), and has created over 550,000 jobs (Light and Rand, 85). Even though there is only a small change in the number of crimes as a result of casinos, it is enough to conclude that “crime rates were reduced, but not in an overwhelming way” (Light and Rand, 97). On the contrary, Native Americans believe that it is a “one-sided...

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