Internet Gaming on Indian Lands

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Originally published in Casino Enterprise Management magazine – March 2013.

With no federal Internet gaming bill on the horizon, state legislatures are again focused on whether and to what extent Internet gaming will be permitted. Nevada was the first state to adopt regulations and develop a licensing procedure for Internet gaming, which is currently limited to poker. Other states are currently considering legislation authorizing Internet gaming. These proposals cover a wide spectrum, from peer-to-peer poker to Internet lottery ticket sales. Any Indian nation with land in a state that is considering Internet gaming must analyze the impact of such proposed legislation. This analysis can be exceptionally complicated in light of the patchwork of potentially applicable federal laws.

Internet Gaming and the Land -

One of the purposes of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (“IGRA”) is to establish independent federal regulatory authority and standards for gaming on Indian lands. IGRA only applies to gaming on “Indian lands,” which are defined as: (a) all lands within the limits of any Indian reservation; and (b) any lands title to which is either held in trust by the United States for the benefit of any Indian Tribe or individual or held by any tribe or individual subject to restriction by the United States against alienation and over which an Indian tribe exercises governmental power. A preliminary issue is consequently whether Internet gaming is “gaming on Indian lands,” or on any lands at all.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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