It’s not out of the ordinary for normal Americans to associate Navajos and other Native Americans with casinos. Gambling is illegal in most parts all across the United States. But, Indian reservations are not under sovereign control, and the United States has no jurisdiction to forbid gambling on Native American property. There are nearly 500 gambling operations that almost 250 Native tribes operate, generating over $26 billion dollars in revenue for all of these tribes.
How did this begin? In the 1970’s a Native American couple were taxed for their property, their first ever. They fought it at the local and state level, losing both. Then, it was brought to the Supreme Court, who stated that the state has no right to tax Indians on their reservations. In addition, they said the state has no right to regulate any Indian activities on their property. Gaming, which was illegal at the state level, could now be considered for the beginning of operating gaming industries across many locations of Indian reservation in the United States.
1988, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was created, passed by Congress, and signed into law by the President Reagan. This law allowed tribe to have complete sovereignty on their land and construct and utilize casino halls, although, the state stated they could regulate it somewhat. The states take advantage of this and take some revenue from the Indian Casinos and call it a “tax.” Whenever the state feels the casinos are messing with federal law, they’ll take some money. Who knows where that money goes?!
Indian Gaming contains halls that play poker, bingo, lottery, and they don’t even need a license for it. Once the high stake games and jackpots come into play, it is a little more regulated. Games such as casinos, jai alai, racetracks, and such were feared by the United States where they believe crime and mobs could take over these industries.
Popular locations for gaming and the most gaining in revenue are that of Sacramento, CA and Washington D.C., pulling in nearly $7 billion annually. California, Oklahoma, and Connecticut pull in the most money.
Although casinos have the ability to earn a lot of money for Native Americans, it has not shown to help the economy too much. Although it is the largest income generator for them, the United States intervention has hurt the ability for them to dramatically increase their economy.
There is also the dilemma of the income generated from casinos making only a few people rich. Like most business models in a capitalistic society, the people at the top of any business are the ones who make the most money. But, with casinos employing many people who need not much skill and require low pay, it allows the people at the top to get lucratively wealthy and not leave much for the rest of their people.
Here is a good article stating some of the problems with Navajo casino money money – http://navajotimes.com/opinions/2014/0214/022714letters.php
Some popular Navajo Casinos include Fire Rock Navajo Casino, Flowing Water Casino, and Northern Edge Casino, all located in New Mexico, and one just recently opening in Arizona called Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort.