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American Indian Tribes Stand On Online Gambling

By: Shirley Spicer, Monday October 10th 2011
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American Indian tribes have been given exclusive rights to land based gambling in reserved areas. They expect similar facilities with respect to online gambling as and when it is legalized in the United States. However they fear that the current format of online gambling regulation sought by the land casino moguls of Nevada and New Jersey will marginalize the interests of the American Indian tribes.

These were the sentiments articulated this week by Seneca Nation President Robert Odawi Porter in a testimony before a Senate committee in Washington as per a report in the Buffalo News. Porter pointed out that he sees the present scenario as one in which the major American gambling corporate houses are "seeking an instant monopoly" in legalized online gambling. The tribal leader called the attempt by corporate casino owners to shut Indian tribes out of the coming boom in online gambling "the latest threat to the tribes' sovereignty".

Elaborating on his stand, Porter told the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs that the big land casino houses are urging Congress to pass legislation that would allow them to enter the online gambling market first. Porter said, "Like land homesteaders and gold stake claimers before them, these Nevada and New Jersey moguls see Indian gaming as a competitive threat and are determined to shove Indian gaming away from the table or, at best, deal Indian gaming a short hand." He added that these big casinos are feeding Congress a fictitious story that they alone possess the sophisticated technology and resources required to operate online gambling sites in the first wave.

When specifically asked by the committee whether the American Indian tribes would be able to run their own online gambling operations, Porter unequivocally confirmed that there is no doubt that they would be able to compete and thrive. After the hearing, Porter told the Buffalo News that the Seneca nation is not an advocate of online gambling but is desirous of, willing and able to participate on at least an equal footing if Congress legalizes and regulates the online gambling market.

Michael J. Pollock, managing director of the Spectrum Gaming Group, told the Buffalo News that he was surprised that the early drafts of proposed legalization measures had not considered the interests of the American Indian tribal groups. Marvin Steinberg, executive director of the Connecticut Council, told that while the USA land casino industry once opposed legalizing online gambling, it now wants to be the prime deliverer of it. He was announcing a conference on Problem Gambling, scheduled for October 20 at the Water's Edge Resort & Spa in Westbrook, in which online gambling is expected to feature.

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