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Congressmen propose bill to “remove federal barriers“ to online tribal gaming


Two US Congressmen have proposed a federal bill clarifying that all wagers placed with servers on tribal lands, may be considered gambling on tribal lands and regulated as such.

House Bill 4308, proposed by California’s Luis Correa and New York’s John Katno, would “remove federal barriers regarding the offering of mobile wagers on Indian lands when the applicable State and Indian Tribe have reached an agreement”.

It would do this by defining any wager placed at a server on tribal lands as being placed on those lands.

This bill would mean that any legal challenges to proposals in Florida – where the state and the Seminole Tribe have agreed on a new compact to allow sports betting – could be dismissed.

“Tribal government gaming is the primary source of revenue for hundreds of tribal nations throughout this country who otherwise would not have the basic resources to provide for the health, safety and general welfare of their citizens and others who live on tribal lands,” Correa said.

“However, the gaming industry is quickly evolving and more and more  states are legalizing some form of gaming activity that primarily  utilizes the internet. Sophisticated, well-financed digital companies  that did not exist even ten years ago are changing the gaming industry  before our eyes.”

Correa added that tribes needed official legal clarity on the status of online gambling in order to invest in the vertical.

“As tribal governments begin to prepare to move their gaming  activities into the online world, there have been some questions about whether such gaming activities would continue to be primarily governed by the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act,” he said.

The law governing tribal gaming, Correa explained, was enacted in 1988, before the internet was readily available, and as such does not make any provisions for the channel.

“As you can imagine, setting up these new gaming systems involves significant financial investments,” he said. “Tribal governments should not be required to  make these investments without having clarity and comfort of what laws will apply to them.”