Tribes Affect sports betting debate

Native American tribes have emerged as key players in the debates over whether countries should legalize sports together with some opposing the notion because it could undermine other folks and their casinos encouraging legalization but only if they maintain a monopoly.

Only because they fear it might force them to reopen agreements that give them exclusive rights to run casinos and offer certain kinds of gambling tribes are battling against sports gambling or taking a go-slow strategy.

“The tribes have a major-league seat at the table,” said Bill Pascrell III, a lobbyist for gambling interests which are looking for legalized sports gambling throughout the nation.

Six states have combined Nevada in allowing sports gambling as a U.S. Supreme Court judgment a year ago opened the doorway to its growth. Legalization has been considered in over 20 others.

In Minnesota, a bill seeking to legalize sports cleared its first hurdle before this season. But that is very likely to be as much as it belongs, in part as the state tribes oppose it.

Betting”is the sole effective economic development tool the tribes have had,” John McCarthy, executive director of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association, advised the committee.

The tribes, that run 21 casinos and also also have given millions in campaign contributions, are particularly concerned about permitting sports gambling on mobile devices, which they fear could invite wider internet gambling that could endanger their own casinos.

Back in Texas, the sports is almost certain to die. A Democrat, the minority party introduced it, in a country where casino operators from Louisiana and neighboring Oklahoma have contributed tens of thousands to keep out gambling. Two Oklahoma tribes, the Chickasaw and Choctaw nations, have contributed over $5 million to Texas officeholders and candidates since 2006.

Sports betting measures introduced in Arizona and Washington state can also be known as longshots, mainly due to ambivalence or resistance.

In certain states sports have not been introduced in any way. That’s true in Oklahoma, in addition to California and Florida, that are still home to tribes which have been cool to the idea.

But elsewhere, casino-operating tribes would be the ones leading the legalization efforts.

Even the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes have rights in Connecticut to casino gambling and are working with the governor’s office to add sportsbooks. Two casinos in New Mexico started sportsbooks that were running after the Supreme Court decision, though the tribes never received explicit permission by the state.

In North Carolina, a bill would enable the tribe to offer without forcing it to create any concessions gambling on horse races and sports at its casino near Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Conservative religious groups have warned about the dangers of more gambling, but the legislation has so far sailed through committees in the state Senate. The tribe is one of the nation’s top contributors.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Jim Davis, recognized the tribe for bringing jobs to an otherwise distressed portion of western North Carolina.

“They’ve been incredibly excellent stewards of the revenue, and it’s transforming that neighborhood,” he said.

Like other strong interest groups, tribes ensure they have access through governmental contributions to governors and lawmakers. Tribal governments have contributed more than $114 million into candidates and committees within the past decade, according to an Associated Press analysis of information.

In some countries, including California, letting sports gambling would take a constitutional change. Tribal and that hesitation usually means that the NBA’s Sacramento Kings would have to wait perhaps to allow the group to gambling in a package.

Arizona is the case of a state where tribes will be the essential players from the legalization argument but are on opposite sides.

The Navajo Nation is pushing for a step that will provide tribes the exclusive right to operate sports betting off their reservations. Tribes could put gambling kiosks in clubs and bars.

But other Arizona tribes oppose the laws, saying it might hurt existing casinos on reservations.

Lawmakers in many states aren’t eager to drive the issue from tribes without support, said Hilary Tompkins, a solicitor together with the Department of the Interior, which manages the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

“It’s not worth the annoyance of engaging in a fight with the tribes within their states,” Tompkins said. If nations”open the doorway to non-tribal sports gambling, the tribes are going to say,’We are going to lower our earnings for you.’ And that could end up in court.”

Minnesota state Sen. Roger Chamberlain, chairman of the tax committee that passed this year’s sports betting bill, acknowledged that it will be nearly impossible for the measure to be successful without backing against the tribes.

“They’ve got momentum and therefore so are telling folks they do not want it to go everywhere,” he explained. “I feel that’s a little unfair, however, we’re prepared to talk together and guard their interests”


Associated Press writers Jonathan J. Cooper in Phoenix; Felicia Fonseca at Flagstaff, Arizona; Susan Haigh in Hartford, Connecticut; Sean Murphy in Oklahoma City, Gary Robertson at Raleigh, North Carolina, along with Paul J. Weber in Austin, Texas, contributed to this Report.


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