The entire world knows about Las Vegas as a key gambling center, and Sin City’s various casinos and other attractions continue to draw many people from all over the world. But it is not well known that there are lots of other American facilities out there, and a significant proportion of these are operated and owned by Indians!
Native American gambling is responsible for 43% of the whole industry in the US. This may surprise you, but these casinos are way bigger than those in Las Vegas, and they also bring in a lot more revenue!
In 2017, figures reached more than $32 billion! Las Vegas Strip had revenue of less than $18 billion that year (which includes not only gaming but also hotels and foods).
Casinos run by native Americans have only really been developing for the past couple of decades. After all, it wasn’t until 1988 that gambling facilities were finally regulated by law. That all started in the early 1980s, when some Indian tribes began to operate bingo halls. After a series of legislative discussions, state courts allowed them to begin their operations.
Whether these casinos actually contribute to the local economy or not is still a very debatable point in this country. For many of the tribes who own casinos, it wasn’t actually that much of a choice! They came to this business because it opened up some opportunities to ameliorate the conditions of the reservations. Most of Native Americans suffer from a low educational level and low economic status. And since the Indian reservations themselves, given their locations, are generally separated from any real economic centers, the emergence of casinos does have the potential to create some new employment opportunities and stimulate the growth of local communities — and they have indeed succeeded in doing so.
This issue is also being actively discussed among Indians. Many of them believe that this path, no matter how profitable it is from a purely economic point of view, contradicts their authentic culture.
Regardless of what the community thinks, casinos are at least making lots of improvements. Their development enhances the infrastructure of the tribal lands, create opportunities for education, and provide social programs. Casinos do generate an impressive number of jobs, but up to 75% of them end up going to non-Indian employees. Still, the unemployment rate among Indians has largely decreased due on account of the gaming businesses.
At the moment, 238 tribes operate 474 gaming facilities in 28 states. The popular opinion that all Indians are involved in this business is untrue — as this number is less than 50% of federally recognized tribes!
There are some things you need to know when you visit Native American casinos. They are not designed for tourists; and apart from the games themselves, you are not likely to find anything really interesting. Plus, as they are located on tribal lands, there will be local police guarding the facilities. This usually means the control is going to be tougher than in most other casinos!
As for the selection of games, there are not so many differences between the facilities run by Native Americans and other venues in the country. The payouts may vary greatly, though. In many states, Indian casinos don’t have to report payback percentages, which makes some of the games (especially slots) tougher for the players!
There are three classes of gambling activities under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) that was adopted in 1988:
The Morongo Casino located in California is among the most popular ones run by Indians. Cabazon band tribe that stands behind this venue was the first one to start providing gambling games before the 1980s.
At the moment, the Morongo is a 27-story resort with more than 300 hotel rooms which offers hundreds of games. There’s a 22-table poker room, high-limit area for high rollers, and many other attractions.
The Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut is also one of the most popular facilities in the reservation area. It is one of the largest casinos in the US and the whole world — covering an area of 9,000,000 square feet!
The Foxwoods has 350 gaming tables and around 5,500 slot machines. There are also numerous restaurants, more than 2,000 hotel rooms, luxury stores, and many more. Until 2012, the World Poker Tour was held in one of the casino’s poker rooms.
Another facility located in Connecticut is the Mohegan Sun Resort. It is a stunning building situated near the Thames river. It has a part with a planetarium-like ceiling: fiber optics and lighting effects are the features that make the resort uniquely beautiful. There’s an indoor waterfall which symbolizes the tribe’s migration history, along with some meaningful decor in a traditional Native American style. It offers hundreds of table games, slots, and all sorts of popular gambling entertainments.
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