Sports Betting a Potential Threat to Tribal Casinos

Written by:
Gilbert Horowitz
Published on:

Tribal leaders sounded the warning that sports betting could undermine their own businesses.

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Speaking at this week's G2E in Vegas, Victor Rocha, president of Victor Strategies and owner and editor of pechanga.net, said it was crucial not to rush into offering sports betting.


Rocha moderated a Monday panel discussion titled Tribal Leadership Council: The Next Five Years for Tribal Gaming.  The panel featured leaders from Tribal gaming including Ernie Stevens Jr., chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association in Washington, D.C.; Melanie Benjamin, chief executive of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe in Minnesota, as well as Mark Macarro, tribal chairman of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians.

“We’re going to be part of this industry as sovereign nations, whether it’s sports betting, the Internet or anywhere (else),” Stevens said.

Macarro says he wants legislation to be crafted in such a way to prevent loopholes.

He warned that now is the time to ensure regulations prevent sports betting and online gaming from threatening brick-and-mortar casinos.

“There are a whole lot of lives at stake,” he said.

Rocha said the tribes must consider what they are giving up, and what they might be getting in return.

“This isn’t us being obstructionist,” he said. “We have no other choice but to be careful.”

And the tribes have an important say when it comes to the progress of legalized sports wagering.

A quick examination of the population data conducted by Sports Handle shows Native American gaming interests control or heavily influence gambling in four of the top ten most heavily populated states:

    California – population 39,776,830, representing 12.13 percent of the U.S – first.
    Florida – population 21,312,211, representing 6.5 percent of the U.S. –  third.
    New York – population 19,862,512, representing 6.06 percent of the U.S. – fourth.
    Michigan – population 9,991,177, representing  3.05 percent of the U.S.  – tenth.

All of these states have contracts generally called “compacts” with the various tribes.

- Gilbert Horowitz, Gambling911.com

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