The Future of the Native American Gaming


In 1988, the United States federal government passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, paving the way for federally recognized Native American tribes to establish casinos on their reservations. Tribes applied for and received licenses to operate casinos, soon becoming travel destinations for avid gamblers.

Why create tribal casinos?

Many reasons drove this decision, although primary among them was establishing independent revenue streams for Native American tribes, historically disadvantaged groups who continue to live in extreme poverty and deprivation. Casino profits would be put to use in the economic upliftment of tribes’ members.

In the United States, Michigan is among the many states that have Native American casinos. Since online gambling was legalized in early 2021, Indian tribes such as Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians quickly established their presence in the Michigan online gambling industry.

Most studies indicate that Native American casinos have had the desired economic effect, with members now accessing better infrastructure and service delivery in education, healthcare, and law enforcement. More tribes continue applying for federal recognition to launch casinos on their reservations.

Statistics and the status quo

Native American gaming is responsible for nearly half of America’s annual gambling revenue. The casino experience they offer remains popular among gamblers even as more commercial casinos continue opening.

Adding the concept of virtual sales through online gambling is only available to Native American casinos in states that have legalized online casino operations, such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware, and New Jersey. Tribal casinos in other states are keeping a keen eye on developments as legislatures continue their quest to legalize online gambling in their areas.

A look ahead

America’s casino industry is experiencing a growth spurt as more states relax their gambling and sports betting laws. Archaic Supreme Court rulings were overturned to make gambling and wagering more accessible countrywide.

Tribal casinos continue to play a vital role in the gambling economy. However, their operators understand that maintaining their market share is only possible by keeping abreast of new developments and trends. Ignoring these in favor of retaining an ‘old-school’ approach will see them left behind while their competitors thrive.

Going online is a prime example of this principle. Tribal casinos going the extra mile and introducing features like blockchain use in iGaming are seeing sustained revenue growth. Therefore, the outlook for Native American gambling looks favorable, especially as the travel, tourism, hospitality, and entertainment industries return to a semblance of pre-pandemic normalcy, driving a much-needed economic recovery.

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