Casinos on Native American land have been a hot button issue since both Canada and the United States passed laws in the 1980s that facilitated such ventures.
Legalized Gambling for Native Americans
The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) is a 1988 law that allows Native Americans to conduct gambling on their land regardless of the state laws in which that land resides. Canada took a more hands-off approach but the result has been similar. Wisconsin alone has over 20 such casinos and has additional official requests in the bureaucratic pipeline.
The Dark Side
Laws allowing Native Americans additional freedoms are a noble ideal. The results from these laws, however, are often less than noble. Some politicians and many within the U.S. Department of Justice argue that these laws have done much more harm than good. Only a small percentage of the profit from these casinos is actually distributed to the Indians who live on the land, and many argue, and they have a good case, that these casinos only benefit the rich as well as corrupt politicians.
Research Demonstrates Negative Effect
In fact, recently published statistics show what a negative effect these casinos have on their communities. Casinos are crime magnets, and 2012 University of Maryland statistics show that a casino causes a 9 percent crime hike.
Putting the human element aside for a moment, that translates into a $70 cost to the government per head per year. That is significant and even something that Las Vegas struggles to deal with it. On Native American land, the casino is often not held accountable and is able to exploit the community.
The damage is not just limited to the Native American communities. It actually spills over into the nearby towns and cities. These casinos do pay taxes to the state/province and federal government, but these taxes are special and usually not straightforward. Often, the tax money doesn’t trickle down to the small town being negatively affected by its proximity to the casino.
A Bleak Future
When one considers how much donation money went to the Obama campaign, and the Bush campaign before that, from the Tribal unions, the future seams bleak. Some politicians, such as Scott Walker, Wisconsin’s governor, are calling for change, but they’re very much in the minority. Most people simply aren’t aware of the sheer scope of damage that these casinos are doing to nearby communities, Native American and otherwise.
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