Tribes Determine US Sports Gambling Direction

One of the key players in states’ move to legal and regulated sports betting is the tribal bloc. Native American tribes are making their support or opposition to the issue known loud and clear and, in many cases they could also have the final say on the matter.

In some states, tribes have opposed the idea of sports betting outright. They believe, for example, that an expanded gambling industry in the state could threaten their own casinos. Other tribes have expressed their support on one important condition: That they are able to retain a monopoly on gambling in the state. 

According to the publication, The Morning Call, “tribes are fighting sports betting or taking a go-slow approach because they worry it might force them to reopen decades-old agreements that give them exclusive rights to operate casinos and offer certain forms of gambling.”

Legal sports betting is very much a hot topic among individual states at the moment. Ever since the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of allowing states to decide the future of their own sports betting industries, last year, six other states have joined Nevada in welcoming their own industries, including New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Another 20 or so states are mulling the legalization of their own industries.

The example of Minnesota is a good one to show how much influence tribes seem to have on the direction of sports betting. A bill is currently in the state’s pipelines which is showing some promise. The proposal – to legalize sports betting in the North Star State – passed a State Senate committee but it is believed that it will have great difficulty advancing any further. The main reason for this is the strong opposition by the state’s tribes.

21 casino establishments are operated by Minnesota tribes, who are concerned about the introduction of sports betting on mobile and its threat on their casinos.

In Texas, Oklahoma, California and Florida, the picture isn’t much different, with many states not even being able to introduce sports betting bills at all due to the opposition of influential tribes.

Influence can work in the other direction as well. Two powerful tribes in Connecticut – the Mohegan  and Mashantucket Pequot Tribes – are working hand in hand with the governor’s office to add sportbooks to their lineup of exclusive casino games.

Tribes are strong political contributors, with over $114 million donated by tribal governments to state governments over the last decade.

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