Indian Affairs Committee Holds Hearing on Online Gambling

By Debra SaundersGoogle

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held a hearing recently intended to include the Native American population in any major decision making process regarding the legalization and regulation of online gambling. 

Two representatives from the Native American population presented opposing views on the issue of online gambling at the hearing.  The Mohegan Tribe Council Chairman Bruce “Two Dogs” Bozsum favored legalized and regulated online gambling, though he cited that it is important that the Native American tribes be given equal opportunity to attain a competitive share of the market.  Bozsum opposed state-wide regulation like that of New Jersey or Nevada and added that Tribal online casinos must be allowed to serve players outside of Tribal property.  He also called for the shutting down of unregulated internet gambling sites.

Glen Gobin, the vice chairman of the Washing State Tulalip Tribes, expressed his opposition to online gambling because he feared it would hurt the Native Americans’ brick & mortar casinos.  Gobin brought statistical analyses that show that the Native American land-based casinos generate over six times as much income as the online casinos, and therefore there is no reason to risk losing any of that large income for the small potential gains provided by the online alternative.  Gobin also expressed fear that the Indian casinos would not be able to compete in an online environment with the more famous casino brand names.

Ernie Stevens, the Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association, sided with Bruce Bozsum.  He said that Native American casinos will be able to compete and succeed in a regulated online environment, though it is important that the government uphold the contents of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in relation to online gambling as well.  

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