Tribes Reach Resolution in Support of Legal Sports Betting

Tribes Reach Resolution in Support of Legal Sports Betting

American tribal casinos are in on the legal sports betting movement should the Supreme Court rule in favor of New Jersey in the Christie v NCAA case, now known as Brown vs NCAA. The National Indian Gaming Association has adopted a resolution in favor of sports betting, and while it is a careful backing of the practice, it’s backing nonetheless which is a big step forward for the tribes on the issue.

The SCOTUS ruling would either totally strike down PASPA, the 1992 federal ban on sports wagering, enable only New Jersey and other states with proper regulations to allow betting or uphold the ban. NIGA, which consists of 184 federally recognized Native American Tribes, is voicing its conditional support in fear of the high court and government ignoring it should PASPA be struck down.

NIGA Lists Desires for Sports Betting

The resolution asks for a number of specific concessions in return for the backing of the tribes. First they want to be seen as governmental bodies with regulatory powers over betting and ask that customers using tribal casino online betting options will be allowed to do so if they’re located in areas where sports betting is legal.

Any federal sports betting movements and legislation will be expected to benefit the tribes and the tribes will maintain the right to opt into a federal regulatory scheme to ensure access to a broad range of markets. NIGA expects tribal rights granted under The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act will be protected and the Act will not be amended under any circumstances.

Integrity Fees Could Face Speed Bump with IGRA

It’s no secret that Major League Baseball, the PGA Tour and the NBA are pushing for the inclusion of “integrity fee” provisions in sports betting legislation. These fees would be levied to the tune of .25 of 1 percent on all sports bets made in the US.

The IGRA, however, could provide a major speedbump for these proposed fees and be key to keeping professional leagues hands out of betters, state’ and sportsbooks’ pockets. Aurene Martin, President of Spirit Rock Consulting and a member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, said the leagues would not be allowed to tax gaming operators on tribal land:

“IGR is very clear that tribes can’t be taxed and can only have fees put upon them that they agree to, with the state, to pay for regulator activities. Nowhere are tribes allowed in IGRA to pay third parties this type of fee. There are real questions about whether it can be imposed on them. Tribes want to be responsible and make sure games have integrity, so I don’t know what the answer is.”

Wallach Believes Adjustments will Challenge Tribes

Daniel Wallach, a NIGA panelist and sports and gaming attorney with the South Florida-based firm Becker and Poliakoff, believes that tribes will be in a tough positon should PASPA be struck down immediately.

As the tribes’ efforts to be prepared for the big decision continue, Wallach reminded legislators that the tribes would not be able to “flip a switch” and effectively jump on board as quickly as the states that have already prepared legislation for the occasion particularly in regards to online and mobile platforms:

“That presents a unique challenge to the Indian Nation under IGRA because (gaming) is required to be confined to the reservation. So a tribe’s ability to participate in the mobile and online environment may be somewhat circumspect under IGRA. Many of the bills grant entitlements to racetracks and casinos to partner with online sports betting operators. That may not be an environment that Native American tribes will be able to participate in and could put them further behind the eight ball competitively.”