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Native Americans And Gambling

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In order for a society to run smoothly some form of social control needs to prevail. This is because individual actions have to be checked before they get out of hand. Since individuals are liable to get out of hand and there needs to be control over them, it is also understandable that society as a whole also needs to be controlled in much the same way; society after all is made by the total number of individuals in it. In the event of appropriate social and legal mechanism failing to act, individuals may get out of control, and this means that before situations go beyond a state's control interventional action must be sought.

Gambling is a popular sport in America almost a100 million people engage in this activity either as a social past time or taking it seriously to make it big in the game. American's normally gamble almost 400 billion and loose almost 39 billion to the house. The amount that Americans normally spend on this activity is more than what they would spend on amusement, books films and music combined.

The state of Nevada and New Jersey is where all this action was supposedly to start. Was when the private, individual pockets such as Donald Trump and Steven Wynn's were filled. With the rise of this business the American Indians have also been attracted by all the glitz and glamour from this business. The Indians across the United States have opened casinos all over America.

A name to note in this business would be Foxwoods High Stakes Bingo & Casino of Ledyard, Connecticut. This casino is operated by Indians from the Mashantucket Pequot tribe and is thought to be one of the most profitable business in the western Hemisphere.(Kevin, 1995)

The problems faced by the Indians on their reservations, both economically and socially, across the United States are well documented (Cozzetto. 1995) These reports come from various sources such as governmental agencies, privately run research firms and Indian groups themselves.

These problems range from alcohol and drug abuse, juvenile wrongdoing which further leads to a higher crime rate, poor educational facilities, and many other problems. The various tribal governments push the matter forward for change and improvement so that their local problems can be solved. The facts remain that since they are sovereign entities they have to handle their own problems without any interference from any other governments. This concept from "self discrimination is a central component of sovereignty". (Dahl, 1995)

The word "Las Vegas" immediately brings one's mind to casinos and the neon signs on the front elevations. It certainly brings an image of a city build by gangsters to quarry on the anticipation of uncontrolled tourist. In the beginning there were only two states that were given the right where the activity of gambling could be conducted. Today the states of Utah and Hawaii have also been legalized to institutionalize gambling. With pressure mounting from other states who wish to join the gambling arena.

In the year 1988 congress passed the act called the "Indian Gaming Regulatory Act". This act recognizes the tribes controlled by the Indians in the United States to launch gambling institutions on their reservations. This is only possible if the state where the tribe is situated has legal gambling laws. This .law was passed because of two cases Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Butterworth [Kopvillem, 1990) and California v. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians.[ Magnuson, 1994]

According to the statistics on Economic Impact Of Indian Gaming "Indian gaming has become the industry that tribal governments can use to overturn 150 years of federal neglect. As of February, 1997, the National Indian Gaming Commission reported there were 115 tribes with gaming class III operations and 164 tribe/state compacts in 24 states. Less than one-third of the tribes in the U.S. have gaming operations. Indian Gaming is only 5% of the entire Gaming Industry.

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) mandates tribal governments, not individuals, can have gaming operations. Thus the entire proceeds of the industry go back to fund tribal government programs, just as state revenue funds state programs. States use lottery proceeds much the same way tribes use gaming proceeds. Indian gaming is providing a means to self-sufficiency for Tribal Nations, and is also creating jobs and economic activity in local non-Indian communities and states where tribal gaming operations are located. Over 120,000 direct jobs and 160,000 indirect jobs have been created nationwide. Gaming holds some hope for reducing poverty, but it is definitely not a treat as the limited and perhaps transitory success of gaming cannot quickly render null and void centuries of botched economics.

Indian casinos are present in large numbers and many are not even listed. According to the statistics, "Indian gaming represents only about 5% of all gambling in the United States and only a third of tribes currently operate gaming facilities. About 40% of gambling revenues come from state lotteries and the remaining 55% is dominated by commercial entities in Nevada and New Jersey" (Lawrence, 1995). These gaming zones offer jobs for tribal members, food and shelter for on-reservation members and a buy-back of bigger land bases. Wisconsin tribes operate 15 Class III gaming facilities with a total payroll of just over $68 million. For some 3,000 employees, their casino job is the family's sole source of income. If those same employees were placed on state unemployment compensation, it would cost the state more than $27 million.

Procurement by tribal gaming employees of daily items support more than 900 indirect jobs, created by the increased sales that local businesses are surviving upon. 17 percent of the population that visits the casinos comes from out of state and an additional 53 percent come from outside the immediate casino area. This also leads to greater than before tourism generating nearly $18 million dollars in state income taxes per year along with a drop in welfare costs.

The tribal governments, similar to any other state government, utilize profits that gaming generates for the purposes that include law enforcement, education, economic development, tribal courts and infrastructure improvement. The Indian nations are using gaming profits to fund social service programs, open hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and flower shops; to fund retirement programs for their tribal elders, scholarships, health care clinics, new roads, new sewer and water systems, adequate housing, chemical dependency treatment programs and dialysis clinics, among others. In Minnesota, roughly 37% of the tribal gaming employees had received state or federal welfare assistance prior to their employment and another 31% were drawing unemployment compensation.




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