The History of Native American Tribal Casinos and Locations in Florida

By  //  September 10, 2021

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Delicious Digg This Stumble This

According to the National Indian Gaming Commission, there are 524 Native American gambling establishments in North America. These are spread throughout 29 states and run by 247 tribes. In 2019 they pulled in over $34bn gross gaming revenue.

Needless to say, Native America tribal casinos are big business – bigger, in fact, the Las Vegas casinos. Tribal casinos even have Las Vegas beat when it comes to ostentatious glamour and largess. It would seem that tribal casino bosses live by the mantra ‘Go big or go home!’

The Seminole Hard Rock Casino

If you’re bored of playing online casinos in Canada, of which there are hundreds at, perhaps its time to step away from your screen and take a trip to your nearest tribal casino? If you happen to be in Florida, you should check out the Seminole Hard Rock Casino.

This gargantuan casino resort was built in the shape of a guitar (we kid you not), and it features over 5,000 slot games, as well as hundreds of card tables where you can play blackjack, poker and baccarat all night long. You’ll even get a glimpse of a gold piano once owned by the King himself – Elvis Presley. 

Where it All Began

We mention the Seminole Hard Rock Casino because it is with the Seminole tribe that the story of Native American tribal casinos began. The Seminoles were the first to use their status as sovereign nation to circumnavigate America’s restrictive gambling laws. In 1979, they opened the first Bingo Hall to offer a jackpot that was higher than Florida’s $100 legal limit.

And at $25,000, it was quite a bit higher, and attracted a lot of attention. So began the making of a gambling dynasty. The Seminole tribe now own six casinos in their state of Florida, along with another six casinos across the US and Canada. They also own a restaurant and Hotel chain that has outlets worldwide. 

The Law of the Land

The Seminole tribe are among the top three most successful Native America tribes that own and run tribal casinos. It should be noted, though, that not all Native American tribal casinos are actually owned by the tribe that owns the land on which these casinos are situated.

The Mohegan Sun casino, for example, is owned and run by a company based in South Africa. Even though the casino is foreign-owned, it still falls under the legal loophole of being on tribal land, making it exempt from America’s gambling laws.

Tax Free

Thanks to their sovereign nation status, tribal casinos are not legally obliged to pay taxes on their revenue. However, each state has specific tribal-state compacts that ensure that the casinos are paying a share of their profits to the state in question.

Tribal casinos are regulated by the National Indian Gaming Commission, and they fall under the remit of the tribal government of wherever the casino is located. They also have to abide by federal statutes and the tribal-state compacts. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) is the official legislation that outlines the rules and regulations that all tribal casinos must abide by in order to remain operational.

Community Spirit

As previously mentioned, tribal casinos do not have to pay taxes on their gross gambling revenue. However, the IGRA stipulates that Native American tribal casinos must contribute towards the economic well-being of their tribal community.

This entails investing in local infrastructure. Thanks to the IGRA, tribal casinos invest a large portion of their revenue in funds that are used to help to maintain roads, for example, or improve local schools and hospitals, or that enable community projects to be developed. Charitable organizations also receive sizable donations, who in turn help groups and individuals in need. 

Pros Outweigh the Cons

Of course, it’s not all puppies and rainbows. Gambling also has negative effects. Problem gambling is rife within certain areas, as is the excessive consumption of alcohol. In fact, a National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions from 2019, revealed that Native Americans have the highest rates of gambling addiction in the United States.

However, when you look at the benefits, namely, better schools, better housing, low unemployment rates, and economic stability, it’s fair to say that the benefits of Native American tribal casinos outweigh the cons.