Tribal Gaming and US Sports Betting

Tribal Gaming and US Sports Betting

Thursday, February 15, 2018 Posted by Craig Davies
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Exploring the possibilities of a mutually beneficial relationship

The will they won’t they sporting outlook encapsulating many a conversation within the industry regarding the United States, and particularly New Jersey, will be debated until the Supreme Court returns its verdict later this year.

Representing a $32bn annual industry, and between 40%-50% of the gaming industry within the country, Tribal Gaming and its potential role in the sports betting landscape proved to be a hot topic on the issue at ICE London last week.

Speaking in the ‘understanding the opportunities and complexities of rolling out sports wagering for tribal casinos’ panel, Debbie Thundercloud, chief of staff at the National Indian Gaming Association, began proceedings by giving a brief outline of tribal gaming: “We have 248 tribes in the United States that do conduct gaming, those tribes are located within 29 of the states, and the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act requires that tribes and states enter into contracts that outline how gaming is going to be conducted and how it is going to be regulated

“And those terms and conditions of the contracts vary for each of those tribes, so each of the 248 tribes that have gaming may have different nuances and terms and conditions within those contracts.

“Some of those contracts may be exclusivity clauses, so that’s where it complicates how sports betting might get rolled out in the United States within Tribal gaming, because those tribes have exclusive jurisdiction within those states to have gaming and there may be commercial forces that want to participate in that, but because of those exclusivity clauses it makes the political dynamics a little bit different.”

Labelling tribes as the “ one of the best kept secrets in the gaming market in the United States,” Thundercloud went on the explain how  each tribal government is a nation within itself and they have their own governing laws and bodies of regulation and jurisdiction.

Before Thundercloud went on to to explain the benefits of utilising tribal casinos, if New Jersey proves to successful as is largely expected, and the steps currently being taken: “Some of our existing business partners shared that Indian gaming has been proven to move more quickly, sometimes, than working with corporate entities, and they have also found that Indian gaming is a good place for innovation, for piloting new products, because it can happen on a small scale, it can happen quicker, because there’s better communication between the regulatory body and the governing body

“So Indian gaming is a good platform, I think, for this whole sports betting opportunity, because we provide those kinds of things to companies who are wanting to build and grow, so I think Indian gaming is the place to begin with.

“Another thing some of our partners said is that tribes are in business relationships for the long term, and that is very true.

“Within Indian Country we like to develop relationships of trust and reliability, and that takes a lot of time, but once that relationship is established and there is a lot of trust there, you can expect to be able to do business with us for a very long time.

“In terms of the National Indian Gaming Association and our sports betting efforts, I am overseeing a work group that has looked at some of the opportunities and challenges that face Indian country, in terms of approaching the sports betting market.

“What we are planning on doing is creating regional meetings to go around, provide education to our member tribes, so that they have all of the information they need to step into this business and to make a good business decision for their tribal government.

“We are also going to take in their comments, their concerns, what issues they might see that we have to overcome entering into this market, so our work group will take all of that information and take it to our board of directors at the annual meeting in April, and then I believe the board of directors will take a position on how Indian gaming is going to engage into the whole sports betting discussion.

“Right now we are researching, we are gathering information and we are trying to educate and bring all of our members up to speed.”

Totally Gaming says: Should New Jersey be successful in its case, and whichever form victory takes, will undoubtedly be huge news and mean huge money for many states spread across the USA. Hearing the belief for tribal casinos to be a place to start with piloting and innovation was certainly very interesting indeed, and the fallout from regional meetings and the annual meeting could be key.

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