Legacy of Native American Gaming in the Digital Age

Published August 8, 2019

When the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 was established in the United States, this important piece of legislature provided Native American citizens with a unique opportunity, via the operation of gaming and gambling establishments within their tribal lands.

Since then, revenues generated have genuinely improved quality of life, strengthened tribal governments and brought increased economic development. In Arizona alone, Tribal Gaming has generated over $1.3 billion dollars in funding for projects including education, wildlife conservation, plus infrastructure improvements such as upgrading emergency medical facilities.

The Las Vegas Influence from 1988 onwards, it soon became apparent there was also an opportunity for larger, more ambitious visions.

Arguably the most famous casino hub in the world, the success of Las Vegas is a story built over several generations. Many of the biggest casino companies in the world are still headquartered in the Nevada city, while their vast level of experience has also led to important partnerships with Tribal Gaming organizations. Not only that, some of the projects undertaken have even become bigger and more profitable than those based in the fabled ‘Sin City’.

It goes without saying that along with creating thousands of jobs around the country, the economic wealth generated by gaming in tribal lands has been a boon for society throughout much of the United States; both for native and non-native communities. Beyond the initial bingo halls and poker rooms that were soon established within tribal reservations

Operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and boasting 314,000 square feet of gaming space, with over 7,200 slot machines and 380 gaming tables, a casino opened in Ledyard, Connecticut, was the largest casino venue in the world after opening in 1992. It has since been surpassed by a gigantic competitor property in Thackerville, Oklahoma, which has a gaming floor spanning more than 600,000 square feet, making it the biggest casino space anywhere on the planet.

Casino establishments managed and operated by Native American groups achieved $4.4 billion revenues in 2016 according to The Oklahoman, while subsequent reports are expected to show continued growth for 2017 and 2018 when they are eventually published. Indeed, Oklahoma earns more revenue from gaming than any other in the United States, even surpassing both Nevada and Connecticut in recent years.

The Rise of Online Casinos

In no small way, much of the rise in popularity of online casino gaming is thanks to how differently people view gambling and gaming these days. In the past, playing video games was often regarded as a hobby reserved for a niche of nerds and enthusiasts. The internet changed all that, spreading this form of entertainment to more people than ever before and becoming one of the most popular pastimes in the world today, with online casino gaming following suit.

All the traditional casino games one might find at land-based establishments are now available to play online. For example, Betway Casino offers a huge range of games which not only features classics such as slots, roulette, poker and blackjack, but also numerous variants that meet the changing tastes of players in the 21st century.

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This includes live dealers thanks to improvements in streaming technology over recent years, along with the incorporation of virtual reality technology, bringing a uniquely different experience to online casinos. Game developers are also leading the way, providing an innovative and creative approach to gaming, while carefully following the latest trends to bring people more of what they enjoy the most.

Inevitably, the global proliferation of online gaming presents increased competition for traditional venues, including those operated and managed by Native American tribal groups. However, those willing to look towards the future are already identifying opportunities to expand their operations online.

Changing Times Ahead

The majority of land-based Native American casino venues should continue to thrive for many years to come, although in the face of increased competition, it will be interesting to see how they evolve and adapt to changing times. As federal legislation continues to be challenged and revised throughout the United States, many are already looking to make their mark in the growing online gaming industry.

As a provider of legal, regulatory and business intelligence to the gaming industry, Gambling Compliance highlighted the Akwesasne Mohawk Tribe, who recently penned an agreement which will see them gain access to the online gaming market. This will go ahead once the State of New York fully legalizes online sports and casino gaming.

Similar moves elsewhere could see the Native American gaming industry grow beyond the borders of reservations, leading to further growth of an activity that has proven very lucrative for the tribal communities involved.

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