Dispelling the Myths about Indian Gaming

* Total number of federally-recognized Indian Tribes: 561
* Number of Tribal Governments engaged in gaming (Class II or Class III): 196
* Number of Tribal Governmental gaming operations: 309 (several Tribes operate more than one facility)
* Number of states with Tribal Governmental gaming: (Class II or Class III) 29
* Number of Tribal-State gaming compacts: 255

* Tribal Governmental gaming revenue in 1999: $9.6 billion (Less than 10% of total gaming industry)
* Many Tribes operate gaming facilities primarily to generate employment

EMPLOYMENT: * Total number of jobs: 200,000
* National percentage of Indian to non-Indian employees: 75% non-Indian, 25% Indian
* In areas of high unemployment like North and South Dakota, 80% of Tribal governmental gaming employees are Indian.

* The IGRA requires that land taken into trust status must 1) benefit the Tribe, 2) NOT be detrimental to the surrounding community and 3) be approved by the State Governor

* Only 18 total land-into-trust acquisitions since 1988 (Less than 1700 total acres) for gaming purposes * Only 2 off-reservation land-into-trust acquisitions since 1988 (Only 55 total acres)

* Only 15 Tribes have received Federal Recognition through the "Federal Acknowledgement Process" since 1978 * Only one of those Tribes has gaming
* 15 petitions for Recognition have been denied since 1978

* National prevalence rate of 0.8 percent for lifetime pathological gambling
* Compare lifetime figures for:
o Alcohol dependence - 13.8 percent
o Drug dependence - 6.2 percent
o Major depression - 6.4 percent
* Indian Tribes have model programs for problem gamblers. In many areas, like Arizona, North Dakota and Connecticut, Indian Tribes are the primary funding source for such programs

* Revenues from Tribal Governmental gaming must be used in five specific areas
The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (25 U.S.C. 2710 [Sec. 11]), net revenues from any tribal gaming are not to be used for purposes other than-
o To fund Tribal Government operations or programs;
o To provide for the general welfare of the Indian tribe and its members;
o To promote Tribal economic development;
o To donate to charitable organizations; or
o To help fund operations of local government agencies.

* Three-fourths of gaming Tribes devote all of their revenue to Tribal governmental services, economic and community development, to neighboring communities and to charitable purposes and do not give out per capita payments
* Tribal Government services, Economic and Community development, general tribal welfare, charitable donations and any requirements for aid to Local governments must be provided for before a Tribe can file for a "Revenue Allocation Plan"
* The Secretary of Interior must approve any per capita payments as part of a "Revenue Allocation Plan"
* Only about one-fourth of Tribes engaged in gaming distribute per capita payments to tribal members (47 Tribes)
* Tribal members receiving per capita payments PAY FEDERAL INCOME TAX on these payments

* Tribal Governmental gaming is regulated on three levels.
* Indian Nations are primary regulators of Indian gaming. Under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), Tribes establish the basic regulatory framework for Indian gaming.
* State regulation may be included in Tribal/State compacts for Class III gaming.
* Federal agencies enforce laws relating to Indian gaming, including the National Indian Gaming Commission, the Interior Department, The Justice Department, FBI, IRS, Secret Service and the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network
* Federal law makes it a crime punishable by up to ten years in prison to steal, cheat, or embezzle from an Indian gaming operation, and that law is enforced by the FBI 18 USC ss. 1163.

Information courtesy of the National Indian Gaming Association

Gaming Has Not Significantly Impacted Most Native Americans
There is a growing belief in American society that Indians have struck it rich with the establishment of Indian casinos. Indeed, in a recent article in a leading news magazine, the conclusion was drawn that because of gaming "many Indians have money to spare..."
This is hardly possible when you consider that unemployment among adult Indians is about 15 percent - roughly three times the national average - and Native Americans remain America's poorest people.

Gaming on Indian reservations has not appreciably lowered the high levels of poverty on Indian lands nationwide. According to a "Survey of Grant Giving by American Indian Foundations and Organizations" by Native Americans in Philanthropy, the needs of reservation Indians are so great that even if the total annual Indian gaming revenue in the country could be divided equally among all the Indians in the country, the amount distributed ($3,000) per person would still not be enough to raise Indian per capita income (currently $4,500) to anywhere near the national average of $14,400.
Of the more than 500 Indian nations, only 177 are involved in gaming. Many tribes may never participate in gaming because of their geographic location in rural, unpopulated areas.

The Few Successful Tribes
Among the reasons for the disparity between perception and reality is the attention given to the few tribal gaming operations that have seen spectacular success - such as the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe in Connecticut and the Shakopee Mdewakanton in Minnesota. However, these operations are the exception, rather than the rule.
As small tribes located near major urban areas, these successful gaming operations have benefited the most from the gaming boom generating 40% of all Indian gaming revenue. The remaining 175 tribal operations are only marginally profitable.

Successful Tribes Should Not Be Punished for Their Success
Gaming operations have enabled a number of tribes to reduce unemployment on their reservations.
These tribes must concentrate their gaming revenues to create and maintain tribal police, fire and ambulance services; health and child-care services, educational assistance programs, cultural enhancement, and numerous other human service programs.
Thus, the notion that the federal government should make rich tribes share their wealth with poorer ones is absurd and, more importantly, illegal.
If the state of Michigan generates extra money from its lottery, the federal government doesn't take money away from Michigan and give it to Mississppi.
Remember, each of these tribes is a sovereign nation with their rights guaranteed by treaties and the Constitution of the United States.

Indian Gaming is not a Major Threat to Private and State-Run Gambling
Finally, there is a widespread misconception that Indian gaming is taking money away from private enterprises and state operations.
The truth is that all Indian gaming operations in the United States account for less than 8 percent of money spent on gaming by the public.

Thank you for taking the time to read this information. We know that Indian gaming can be a confusing and emotional subject, so we will do our best to keep you apprised of the latest data and any new developments on this subject.

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