Tribes Not Excited by New USDOJ Decision

02/14/2012
By Tommie ClarkGoogle

Members of the Indian gaming community are not particularly excited about the U.S. Department of Justice’s recent decision.  The USDOJ’s Legal Council has recently overturned the Criminal Division’s understanding of the 1961 Federal Wire Act.  The Wire Act, which was used for years to outlaw internet gambling, now exclusively prohibits sports betting.  Some members of the Indian community are upset; others are apathetic.

 

The issue for the Indian gaming community is that the Federal Wire Act was never an issue for them.  The Indian gaming community has enjoyed special status for years, such that the problems other establishments suffered were never an issue.  The issue is, now that online casino gambling may become legal in many states across America, the special status enjoyed by Indian casinos in not so special anymore.  Some claim that the USDOJ’s decision essentially violates contracts between the U.S. government and the Indian tribes.  Top online casinos could seriously affect the land-based casinos revenue flow.

 

Some members of the Indian gaming community have been quite apathetic about the recent developments.  Some explain that the USDOJ’s decision has no impact until states start legislating; as of now, only Nevada has begun such a process, so the Indian community has no reason to worry.  Others explain that the USDOJ’s decision doesn’t really create a new legal reality because the UIGEA had always included a clause allowing for online gambling within states and within tribal territory.

 

At the end of the day, it does seem that the USDOJ’s change of heart signals a change of heart in Washington regarding the government’s outlook on online gambling.  If USA online casinos are only a matter of time, it will be interesting to see what the impact will be on the Indian gaming community.

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