The Scholar: St. Mary's Law Review on Race and Social Justice


States should not deny Native Americans the right to establish Class III gaming—casino games and slot machines—establishments. In 1988, Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) which provided Indian tribes the exclusive right to control all forms of gambling on Indian land. IGRA, however, requires the Indian tribes and the state to negotiate the terms of a Class III gaming arrangement. If the state refuses, the matter goes to the Secretary of the Interior. The Secretary of the Interior, however, lacks the authority to require a state to allow the tribe to establish Class III gaming institutions. Therefore, without an agreement, the Indian tribe is without a remedy to establish Class III gaming establishments. The formation of Class III gaming establishments should be permitted because it benefits both the Indian tribe and the state. When compared to the national average, most Indian tribes have higher unemployment and poverty rates. Historically, following the establishment of a casino, the unemployment and poverty rates amongst the Indian tribe are reduced. For example, the Spirit Mountain Casino in California generated 30 million dollars and created more than 1,200 jobs in the first year alone. Although discouraged by IGRA, a tribe can agree to give the state a percentage of the casino’s gross revenue. In Connecticut, for example, the state receives twenty-five percent of casinos’ gross revenue, amounting to 80 million dollars annually. The state can then use the money received to improve education, highways, and other industries. Therefore, IGRA should be given more “teeth” so states cannot deny Indian tribes the ability to establish Class III gaming establishments.

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