The National Indian Gaming Association is hosting its 2012 summer Legislative Summitin Washington, DC. Over 260 tribal leaders will attend the two-day event at the Rasmuson Theater in the National Museum of the American Indian and at the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearing room in the Dirksen Senate Building.
During the Summit, NIGA’s Member Tribes will meet face-to-face with Members of Congress and their policy advisors who are involved in the federal Internet gaming debate. Tribal leaders will give the congressmen a real time update from Indian Country about their views on federal Internet gaming legislation as well as the many other current issues of interest to tribal communities. And this year, we have many.
However, NIGA’s Membership will focus most of its attention on the debate surrounding federal legislative proposals to legalize Internet gaming in the United States.
This debate took a sharp turn in December of 2011 when the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) made public its reinterpreted legal opinion on the Wire Act, concluding that “interstate transmissions of wire communications that do not relate to a ‘sporting event of contest’ fall outside the reach of the Wire Act.” DOJ found that the Wire Act does not bar the intrastate Internet lotteries proposed by the states of Illinois and New York, which asked for the opinion.
The DOJ opinion opens possible Internet gaming expansion for both tribal and state governments. Because many difficult legal questions remain, no jurisdiction has yet moved beyond selling lottery tickets over the Internet. However, both Nevada and Delaware have moved forward with authorizing legislation that enables those states to offer games other than lottery tickets over the Internet.
This debate holds great importance to the 247 tribal governments that have used revenues generated from Indian gaming to rebuild our communities. Indian tribes in 26 states from across a wide section of Indian country use gaming revenues to rebuild community infrastructure, educate Native children, improve health care for our elders, enhance public safety, and much more.