It’s all but universally acknowledged to be a transformative wave in the US
market, but nevertheless, the recent US Supreme Court decision clearing the path for widespread legalised sports-betting in the United States raised some sticking points for tribal gaming executives at this year’s G2E.
Four states – West Virginia, New Jersey, Delaware and Mississippi – have laid down framework permitting casinos to offer sports betting since the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PAPSA) earlier this year – with Pennsylvania widely anticipated as being imminent to join them.
But casino executives of Indian Country urged caution to tribes eager to embrace the new amenity – as adoption will inevitably involve negotiation with state authorities regarding the terms of (frequently exclusive) tribal gaming compacts.
Citing the prospect of hefty state tax on betting revenues (such as a 36 per cent levy currently tabled by Pennsylvanian legislators), former director of the Arizona Department of Gaming Stephen Hart warned tribal gaming stakeholders that state gaming commissioners would “have stars in their eyes” when it came to any prospective negotiations.
“I think there is a good future for Indian tribes in sports betting, but it’s going to have to begin with hard and earnest negotiations with state government,” he said.
Meanwhile, recent congressional discussion of a prospective federal system governing betting regulation raised concerns of a different ilk for the people of the various sovereign nations.
“If there’s a federal level of regulation that can come into the picture,” posited NIGA chief of staff Debbie Thundercloud, “[then] how do you as tribal leaders address that question about relegating some of your sovereign authority to a federal framework?”