Washington, D.C., partner Paul Moorehead authored an article on the 25th anniversary of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act for Indian Country Today. The article, “IGRA at 25, With So Much More to Do,” is a retrospective of the act.
The article lays out the events leading to the statute’s enactment, the economic benefits it has provided to gaming tribes, and the frequent attacks it has attracted in Congress. Paul notes that the IGRA has enabled 240 tribes to open 420 class III (e.g. casino-style) gaming facilities, a sector that generated $27.9 billion in revenue in 2013.
“Positive impacts include unprecedented job creation, increased household incomes and revenues to tribal governments and surrounding communities, a stable and mature Indian gaming sector, broad and deep investment by non-Indian gaming interests in Indian gaming, and newfound political influence in state capitals and Washington, D.C.,” Paul wrote.
He continued, “On the negative side, the sheer amount of money involved has attracted some bad and unscrupulous actors (like Team Abramoff), and created gaming-related conflicts between tribes manifested in lawsuits, state referenda, congressional lobbying and well-funded public relations campaigns.”
Paul ended the article summarizing the current state of affairs, which is uncertainty.
Since 2009, he wrote, the U.S. Supreme Court has issued two decisions weakening the Interior Secretary’s authority to take land into trust for Indian tribes for all purposes, including gaming. Legislation to address these decisions r is pending, but prospects for enactment are unknown. “Whether Indian tribes and their friends in Congress can succeed in this regard remains an open question,” Paul wrote in conclusion. “Perhaps on the 30th anniversary of the IGRA we will look back fondly at successful efforts to do just that.”