The revision of the ban on internet gambling is quite possibly a nightmare for many U.S. Indian tribes, who fear that it could destroy their $28 billion-a-year casino business.
Democratic Sen. Daniel Akaka of Hawaii and the chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, revealed a draft of the Tribal Online Gaming Act of 2012, which would allow federally recognized tribes to apply for licenses to operate online poker. Akaka unveiled his proposal just as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Republican Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl made their plans to publish a legislation of their own that would legalize online poker in US, also tightening existing restrictions on other forms of Internet gambling.
“Gaming has been the single most effective form of economic development for Indian Country,” read a statement from Akaka released on Friday.
“Revenues from gaming provide essential services to tribal members including education, healthcare and housing. Indian gaming also provides jobs to members of the surrounding communities. In many counties across the nation tribes are the largest employer with nearly 75 percent of those jobs going to non-Indians.
“With these types of economic tools, comes great responsibility. Tribes are the first-line regulators for tribal gaming. We in Congress and especially on this Committee also have a responsibility to ensure that tribal views and priorities are part of any legislation that could impact tribal gaming.
“That is why I have developed a draft online gaming bill, the Tribal Online Gaming Act of 2012. This bill is intended to further the dialogue with tribes, my colleagues here in the Senate and other affected stakeholders.”
“We see legalization of Internet gambling as a direct threat to the economic growth in Indian country, and we do not support any proposals that legalize Internet gambling,” said Glen Gobin, an officer with the Tulalip Tribes in Washington state.
Reported by Maggie B.