Congressmen File Bill to Help Tribal Casinos Move Online

Representative Lou Correaa

Two United States congressmen have filed legislation to help more casinos operated by tribal groups offer online gambling services.

In the United States, online gambling services are mainly run by commercial providers. While tribal groups offer land-based services, they are not as inclined to offer online gambling due to legalities such as compact changes. Just recently, two congressmen decided to file new legislation that would help tribes get started with online gambling much easier than they can today. HR 4308 was filed by Representative Lou Correa pushing for online gambling changes connected to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act to help with more online services for tribes.

Clarification via Legislation

According to Correa, the measure will clarify that tribal government gaming, the location of the wager is where the server is located, unless a tribe or state are agreeable to terms. This clarification keeps the current system of tribal gaming intact and removes any path for possible litigation.

The bill was announced just one day before a lawsuit was filed in federal court regarding recent gambling changes in Florida involving the Seminole Tribe. The lawsuit seeks to stop the new tribal gaming compact from moving forward. The compact will give the Seminoles exclusive rights to mobile sports betting across the state.

The congressman stated that as more states start to legalize online gaming, tribes are at risk of losing revenue streams that allow them to provide for their communities. Tribes use the funds from gambling to provide education and health care, as well as housing and other services to their members.

Correa feels that Congress needs to use the bill he submitted to ensure that tribal gaming will not be relegated like Blockbuster but can move forward and fare well like Netflix in the era of internet usage. Representative John Katko has decided to sign on as a co-sponsor of the legislation.

Efforts to Expand Gaming Options for Tribes

In the past, lawmakers have tried to provide assistance for tribal nations when it comes to expanding gambling services. Back in December 2019, a bill was filed by former representative Anthony Brindisi that would have removed federal barriers for tribes regarding online sports betting. The bill failed to gain any ground and died before receiving a committee hearing.

Since that time, efforts have been made to allow tribes to expand services, but on a state level, rather than federal one. Florida is the biggest change, with the Seminole Tribe set to offer sports betting as well as additional table games at its venues in the state.

In New York, mobile sports betting was passed within the state budget and tribal operators are worried about what is to come. The Oneida Indian Nation says that the plan in the state as it stands now would stop residents in the upstate area from placing wagers online. The tribe has exclusive gaming rights, and this could affect their bottom line.

Tribal leaders in New York say that if they are banned from offering sports betting services, they will stop paying $70 million to the local and state governments. The application process for sports betting is one that will require bidding by operators to earn licensing. The Gaming Commission has been instructed to provide extra points for providers who create a revenue-sharing pact with tribal gaming operators.

With the new legislation introduced in Congress, it affects the entire nation. It would essentially help tribes across the country rather than just one individual state. It will be interesting to see if the legislation has enough support behind it to move forward. We may see the option fizzle out if enough lawmakers are not on the same page as the bill’s two sponsors.

Associate Writer: Geoff enjoys both live and online poker as well as casino games, and is particularly knowledgeable about the legal landscape of online gambling.