Shocked, Shocked to Find That Gambling is Involved

A feud between tribe nations in the American southeast is going on right now. Senator Richard Burr writes:
Recently, a Native American tribe with deep historic ties to North Carolina announced its intent to purchase land across state lines for an “economic development” that could include a new casino. In order to put up a casino, the legislature would have to pass a measure allowing gambling on the site, but the legislation has already been introduced by the tribe’s political allies.

The tribe is the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and the land in question is in Sevierville, Tennessee.

Yet here in North Carolina, the Cherokee are doing everything in their power to prevent the Catawba Tribe from acquiring land near Kings Mountain for “economic development” (also known as a casino). The episode is only the latest example of the Cherokee’s willingness to disenfranchise other tribes in order to protect their own lucrative gaming monopoly.
I really don't understand this casinos-on-reservations thing. Georgia has had several fights about this recently as well. There's no incentive to the state to permit it, since such casinos are exempt from both state and Federal taxes. Many Southerners object to gambling casinos in spite of the South's long tradition of poker-playing as, unlike poker, casinos are structurally unfair due to the house edge. Often Evangelicals regard gambling of any sort as morally corrupting, and ruinous to poor families.

The South has nevertheless in my lifetime increasingly endorsed state-run gambling, especially lotteries, because they produce revenue that can be used for purposes like education. I don't tend to object, given that all of this revenue is freely given rather than (like taxes) extorted at gunpoint. Still, if more casinos are something that would be good for Southern states to have, why not legalize casinos outright and then tax them? I can understand why the Catawba Tribe would want a tax-free casino, but why should the rest of the citizenry go along with it?


Dad29 said...

The applicable metaphor is Reparations for tribes. Guilt-trip the White Devils for having stolen Indian property (the entire USA) and only rebating reservations, then demand Free Money.

Works every time.

Tom said...

In part it's a sovereignty issue. They have rights granted by treaties with the US that give them exceptions to state authority, or at least some state authority. The federal government negotiates deals between the tribal and state governments.

Here's the Oklahoma state FAQ on it:

And here's the justification question & answer from that site:

Q: "Under what authority are tribes permitted to conduct gaming in states?"

A: "In 1987, the Supreme Court in California v Cabazon Band of Mission Indians confirmed the authority of tribal governments to establish gaming operations independent of state regulation. The following year, Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), which provided a regulatory framework for Indian gaming. The IGRA offered states a voice in determining the scope and extent of tribal gaming by requiring Tribal-State compacts for Class III gaming. Tribal regulatory authority over Class II gaming was left to the tribes. The IGRA further provided for general regulatory oversight at the federal level and created the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC.)"

Tom said...

Here's the topic of tribal sovereignty on Wikipedia:

Some snippets:

"The U.S. federal government recognizes tribal nations as 'domestic dependent nations' ... and has established a number of laws attempting to clarify the relationship between the federal, state, and tribal governments."

The section on tribal sovereignty and the US Constitution is interesting, but too long to quote here.

Grim said...

If it's about sovereignty, the state wouldn't need to vote on it because it wouldn't have the power to say no. If it's about state power, well, why shouldn't the state empower someone who could be taxed? That's usually what states prefer.

Tom said...

The limits of tribal sovereignty are contested. The tribes want more, the states don't want to give it to them.

Why states don't just legalize casinos and collect the taxes is a question for the individual states. However, I know that in Oklahoma, although casinos don't pay taxes, the state does get a cut of the profits in the form of "exclusivity fees". So, maybe the state gets more revenue that way.

According to The Oklahoman, in 2016 those fees came to $132 million.

On the other hand, maybe the people of Oklahoma just don't want to legalize casinos in general, although there are other exceptions. Horse racing is legal here.

E Hines said...

Senator, Progressive-Democratic Party Presidential candidate, and part-time Cherokee Elizabeth Warren (D, MA) is truly torn over which side she should support.

More seriously, in Oklahoma, although casinos don't pay taxes, the state does get a cut of the profits in the form of "exclusivity fees". As any casino operator knows, the house cut is more lucrative than any tax.

Eric Hines

Dad29 said...

In Wisconsin, the challenge is collecting the 'fees' due from the Potawatomi tribe. They pay if and when they damn well please.