Native American Gaming

Tribal casinos and commercial casinos can vary significantly in size. There are typically no state laws that restrict the size of a tribal casino or resort. On rare occasions, a casino may not build a hotel if there are already enough rooms in the local market when it is developed.

Revenues from gaming are required to be used for tribal governmental and charitable ventures only. The revenues are exempt from federal, state, and local taxes, however there are exceptions. In the cases where the revenues are divided evenly and then distributed directly to tribal members, the federal government gets a nice cut. State taxes are often part of the agreements for large scale casinos. In 1987, in the Cabazon Decision, the Supreme Court ruled that as long as a form of gambling is legal in the state where the reservation is located, the state can’t regulate activities on the reservation.

Elk Valley Casino

For this and other reasons, the IRS has determined that for purposes of income taxation, the gambling income of the Indian tribes and their federally-chartered corporations are not subject to federal income tax. Some tribes have chosen to distribute all or a portion of the tribe’s net income from gambling to individual tribal members. However, distributions of tribal money to individual members can only be done if approved by the Secretary of the Interior, following criteria set forth in IGRA.

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That means poker — a game in which players play against each other and not the house — can be offered in Class II tribal casinos. Relatedly, tribal casinos also employ tribal police, whereas commercial casinos employ security officers.

Tribal vs commercial casinos: Available games

“It was heartbreaking to have to close and lay off a great number of employees,” Roger Trudell, chairman of the Santee Sioux Nation, told ABC News. “We fought the United States government and the State of Nebraska for many years just to employ people to enable them to create a life for themselves.” The Santee Sioux Nation opened the casino in 2013 to tamp down high unemployment on the reservation, but since mid-March, no one’s received a paycheck. In Niobrara, a small town in the northeastern corner of Nebraska, the Ohiya Casino and Resort employs 104 people. “This is a loss of real services, and real human services, to our people. It’s not only a money issue, it’s a humanitarian issue, and it really hurts.” D) Estimated sealed ticket and bingo revenue through fiscal year 2008.