In December 2012, the State and the Chippewa Cree Tribe signed a new Class III Tribal-State Gaming Compact, which was approved by the U.S. In addition to other forms of gambling that are legal in Montana, the 2012 compact allows to be operated within the Reservation up to 750 Class III machines, with maximum wagers of up to $10. The compact provides for maximum payouts of $3,000 in up to 500 machines, and maximum payouts of $5,000 in up to 250 machines. The phenomenon of Indian reservation gambling began in the ’70s when the Seminole tribe in Florida opened a high-stakes bingo operation, which is against Florida law. The authorities tried to shut the instant-tourist-attraction down and a slew of lawsuits followed. In 1979, the Supreme Court ruled that the State did not have the right to regulate Indian reservation activities nor could they tax reservation occupants.
At present there are more than 500 tribal casinos of varying types in the US. There are resort-type casinos, but many “tribal facilities” are just trailers with bingo. Former NIGC Chairwoman, Tracie Stevens testified before the Senate Committee on Indian affairs that in 2009 tribal facilities generated gross gaming revenue of $26.5 billion—merely 21 percent of gaming nationwide. But Indian gaming also generated $6.2 billion in federal taxes, $2.4 billion in state income, and $100 million in local income through payroll, sales taxes, and direct revenue sharing through government agreements. It is nearly impossible to prevent tribal casinos if a state does not entirely prohibit gambling, perhaps by the state constitution. If bingo is legal, for example, then tribal casinos can offer Class II competition slot machines without a tribal-state compact. In 1988 Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act which kept tribal sovereignty to create casino-like halls, but the states and Natives must be in Tribal-State compacts and the federal government has the power to regulate the gaming.
Native American Tribal Casinos
If they fail to reach an agreement, the court must appoint a mediator to whom both parties will submit a proposed compact. The mediator must then select the proposal that best comports with IGRA and submit it to both parties. If the state does not, the mediator will notify the DOI secretary, who will prescribe, in consultation with the tribe, procedures consistent with the proposed compact selected by the mediator. Both the compact and procedures have the force of federal law (25 USC § 2710). IGRA requires states to negotiate a compact with tribes in good faith. But a state does not have to negotiate if the tribe does not have any “Indian lands” on which gaming may occur. The Mohegan Tribe is a sovereign, federally-recognized Indian tribe situated with a reservation in Southeastern Connecticut.
The State and the Fort Belknap Indian Community Council signed a state-tribal gaming compact on August 23, 2007. Department of the Interior and became effective December 10, 2007. The compact is the first gaming compact signed between the State of Montana and the Fort Belknap Indian Community Council. Under the agreement, the Tribes may have up to 400 Class III video gambling machines with a maximum wager of $5 and maximum payout of $2,000. In addition, the Tribes may conduct all other forms of gambling that are legal in Montana.