During a hearing by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee in Washington D.C. this week, tribal chiefs stressed that they want to participate in legalized online gambling, but claim they should retain sovereignty over their affairs.
National Indian Gaming Commission Chief Ernie Stevens said that tribes across the country agreed that the federal government should not tax tribal revenues. He also said that current online gambling legislation does not honor that, and therefore the NIGC opposes the bill.
In response, Sean Brown, a spokesperson for Congressman Joe Barton said that the Texas Representative's proposed legislation will give Native American tribes the option to take part or pass on internet gambling.
Last year, the NIGC's 236 tribes generated $27 billion in revenue across 422 gambling establishments in 28 states. NIGC representatives believe that they have the ability and knowledge to operate tribal internet gambling.
While many Native Americans support internet gambling legislation, some are fighting the bill, saying that giving private gambling companies the ability to operate online will threaten the tribes' current land operations.
Glen Gobin, Vice Chairman of the Tulalip Tribes of Tulalip, West Virginia said: "The Tulalip tribe sees the legalization of Internet gambling as a direct threat to the economic growth in Indian Country. "Do you think tribes are going to be able to compete with someone like Harrah's on Internet gaming?"