In a startling show of predictability, Native American tribes have begun to speak out against the legalisation of casino gambling games to be played online on PCs, tablets, and smartphones across America, claiming that it will take away the revenue that they need to survive.
The officials representing some of the tribes have expressed concern that gamblers will not want to drive to the casinos that are often location on remote tribal land, when it would be much easier for them to simply log on to their computers at home and get going. While it is undeniably true that this will be the case for some, the suggestion is that land based casinos will remain a novelty amusement for most, as those who have casual attitudes to gambling and therefore might play online would not be interested in travelling to a casino in the first place.
The only real move towards legalisation so far has been made in the field of online casino video poker, in the states of Nevada and Delaware where it is estimated that legal gambling could be achieved over the internet early next year. It looks like New Jersey will be following suit soon, but of course three states is hardly a huge amount just yet. Still, over on Capitol Hill you will find tribes lobbying for votes against the idea of legal online gambling, and they are determined to nip this one in the bud.
The Tulalip Tribes in Washington state are represented in this case by Glen Globin, who says, “We see legalization of Internet gambling as a direct threat to the economic growth in Indian country, and we do not support any proposals that legalize Internet gambling.” Meanwhile, supporter of online poker Alex Fitzgerald was very critical of the government’s response: “The Republicans are hypocrites when they do not defend my right to conduct my own business yet claim big government is the root of all our problems,” he said. “And Democrats are just incredibly naive and impotent.”
Some compromise may be reached, however. Hawaii’s Democratic Senator, Daniel Akaka, is the chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, and he revealed last week plans to put forward a Tribal Online Gaming Act of 2012. This would allow those tribes which are already federally recognised to put forward applications for online poker license, giving them a chance to get their own profit from the situation and invite customers to their casino from all across the state, with no restrictions.