Indians and casinos

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When it comes to casinos, most of us immediately have a certain picture. The gigantic fountains for the Bellagio that symbolize the glamor and inexhaustible nights of Las Vegas. The Scorsese film "Casino" with all its tension and ruthless characters. The sensation of winning and the frustration of losing.

The world of casinos as they are portrayed in films and television is anything but boring. But there are also countless casinos far beyond the spotlights of Vegas, mainly in sparsely populated land. Both in America and USA. These are on reserves and belong to the Indians. To know why this is the case, it is important to first go back into history.

The original Americans

In America are Indians Native Americans and in USA they are called First Nations. These are not accidental terms. In 1942 Columbus got lost on his journey to India. He accidentally discovered America and called the residents Indians, still in India. But soon it became clear what exactly he had found. The rest of Europe followed in his footsteps and so the colonization of America began. What followed is a turbulent history that was anything but merciful to the Indians. They were driven off their ground and often killed.

And even when America and USA became independent, this did not stop. In the 19e century, thanks to a lot of protest, there was the realization that the Indians deserve more rights. As a result, the government gave large pieces of land back to the original inhabitants.

Indian reserves

The country that was returned are called reserves. These can mainly be found in Arizona, Utah, Montana, South Dakota and parts of USA. In total there are 304 reserves in the US and USA has more than 3000. However, the country was not exactly fertile. This in combination with factors such as addiction and discrimination, ensured that it went badly economically with many Indian strains. Also, not every tribe had its own reserve and different tribes had to share a reserve.

Of the 300,000 Indians who live in a reserve, 173,000 come from the Navajo reserve. The reserves are primarily a close community that are semi-sovereign. For example, they have their own police consisting of people from the reserve. Of course there are also Indians who have successful lives outside of a reserve. They also cover some top positions. But in general, the Indians are economically lagging behind the rest of America.


35% of the Indians are unemployed and 20% of households have an income of only $ 5,000 a year. And with an average income that is around 57% of an average city dweller, the Indians are lagging behind a reserve economically. But a better future is also being worked on - sometimes literally. There are 200,000 companies under the leadership of Indians active in construction, repair and maintenance. Renting parts of the reserve to companies also. These sacrifice in exchange for raw materials and alternative energy sources to the Indians.

Many reserves are also open to tourism. Among others, hotels and ski resorts also count as a source of income. As well as museums, historical re-enactments and souvenirs such as carvings. The government also gives money to certain tribes. Although this feels more like a small plaster on a large open wound. The vast majority of Indians are traditionally running out of the rest of America. But thanks to a rich culture, a light in the darkness suddenly seemed from an unexpected corner.

Navajo gambling songs

The Indians already knew many gambling games before the Europeans had even set foot in America. An example of this is the Moccasin game. They share a spiritual bond with games and they often express themselves in songs. Washington Matthews, a linguistic and ethnologist in the US Army, wrote about this exuberantly. He noted that many tribes, spread throughout America, sang the same songs. The Indians sang the songs to favor their gods and to increase the chance of winning.

While singing, they believe that the spirits of their ancestors help them gamble. The gambling songs are passed on from generation to generation and there is a story behind each song. Gaming games are therefore significant for the culture of Native Americans. It is therefore not strange that the Indians started setting up gambling facilities on the reserve. And even though it was still illegal at the time, this did result in the first casinos of the Indians.


The first official Indian casino was in Florida in the early 70s of the last century. It was a bingohal owned by the seminols: a people consisting of mixed tribes. Gambling had to be done in the first instance through lotteries and from 1975 you could also use higher amounts. This was with the help of the government and meant that other tribes could also open casinos on reserves. The rules concerning gambling in the US is confusing and differs per state.

Where Virginia has completely banned gambling, you cannot make more than a few dollars profit per gamble in Maine. For example, there are casinos on reserves where not many people come and they mainly have to have passers -by. These are often in desolate places. Indian casinos in places where gambling is forbidden or limited do, however, do good business. But why can gambling on reserves while the state prohibits it?

there is aggrati waited.

The Indian reserves are poorly part of regional legislation. And because the number of casinos on reserves rose sharply, there was a demand for any form of regulation. In 1988 the US government blew alive in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). In addition to regulating gambling, the economic past of the tribes were also considered. Economic development and protection against organized crime were added to the law.

In addition, much attention was paid to the tax matters around the casinos. Many stem heads were involved in the introduction of the law, but it did not stop after the introduction of the law. Not everyone agreed and many lawsuits followed. One of the most striking aspects of the law is that the casinos are exempt from paying taxes. This way the tribes of the reserve can claim the full profit. The individual employees do pay income tax, although there are also exemptions for this. For example, the casinos are a large source of income and employment for the Indians.

The growth of the Indians and the Casino

There are almost 500 casinos and gambling facilities spread over 250 Indian tribes. Of the more than 1500 casinos in the US, a significant part is on reserves. The total turnover of Indian casinos and other casinos is more or less the same: $ 35 billion. With 635,000 full -time jobs in 2014, the casinos ensure a lot of employment.

Most jobs are fulfilled by people who live in the reserve. This contributes to the economic recovery of the Indians. A recovery that had to take a long time. The Indian casino is perhaps the symbol of the perseverance of the tribes. A preservation of the traditions of gambling, but in an American jacket. In the meantime, huge casino complexes have been created from the small gambling facilities of 60s and 70s. Especially the casinos in areas where gambling was illegal have experienced huge growth.

Long live the ... Foxwood?

One of the states where gambling was forbidden is Connecticut. Even in the surrounding states it was illegal. After the IGRA Law of 1988 this was allowed on reserves. The Pequot Indians took this opportunity and started a casino on their reserve. For the whole of Connecticut and the states around it, it was now possible to gamble. The casino of the Pequot Indians is called Foxwood and was even the largest casino in the world at the time.

In the early 90s it yielded $ 800 million and it was good for 10,000 jobs. The result was that every Paquot Indian received a free home and had access to good education. Nowadays Foxwood consists of 84 hectares of land on which six casinos and 2266 hotel rooms can be found. Since 2015 there has even been a shopping center that consists of 85 luxury boutiques. For example, the Totempaal from Foxwood is not inferior to the fountains of the Bellagio.

Indians in USA

They also followed the example of America in USA. Not only with the expulsion and killing of the original population, but also with the reserves afterwards. These are called first nation reserves and can also be found here. The first casino set up by Indians, was officially opened in 1993. Two years later, the American government put a signature under the First Nations Gaming Act (FNGA). In principle, this did the same as the Igra in America, although the American government kept a little more control and income.

Shortly thereafter, the American province of Saskatchewan de Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) formed. This states that under Indian tradition, casinos share their profits with the community. The other provinces interpret this in their own way, which unfortunately often expressed itself in a limitation of the control of the tribes. This allows companies to appropriate pieces of the reserve. This still leads to lawsuits. Incidentally, the casinos generally have a positive effect on the Indian tribes in USA.

What for the Indians and casinos?

In 2008 the world was hit by an economic crisis. The Pequot Indians of Foxwood also had a debt $ 2 billion. The income also fell and this was felt by the casinos. The number of casinos in the possession of Indians has risen to 500 in the last 40 years, but not every casino is equally successful. For example, only the casinos that are near a densely populated area make a profit.

In addition, this is in many states where gambling used to be forbidden, it is now legal in certain sizes. The rise of the internet is also the rise, and it Gambling on the internet, a factor. This means that the Indian casinos follow a trend that applies throughout America: a gap between rich and poor. The question is therefore whether all casinos can survive and what exactly is needed for that.

New round, new opportunities

The economic growth and tax benefits for the Indians are still there. A reserve is of course more than just a casino, it is a community. And where that feeling prevails, there is hope. The large Indian casinos will continue to do well and bring economic growth and jobs. There are also more options for the reserves themselves. This way, the Netherlands is also being looked at for the future.

With the legalization of cannabis in USA, the tribal heads have the option to start their own plantation. And with knowledge from the Netherlands, this offers an option for progress. In addition, the majority of the casinos will continue to exist for the time being. And they will generate money for many reserves and tribes.

The reserves are primarily a community and a memory of a historical culture. One that has had many setbacks, but has still survived. And in that moving history of the Indians, there is now also a place for it casinos.

Well -known American casinos

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Tribal Casinos?

Tribal Casinos is another term for casinos in the possession of Indian tribes. The English word for tribe is "tribe. " This term tribal casinos is nowadays no longer used and dates from the last century, circa 1970. The terminology for what we usually call Indians has also changed over the years. Although it is still used for clarity. For example, nowadays a preference is given for Native Americans In the US and First Nations In USA. The word Indians traditionally have a connection with oppression.

Why do Indians have casinos?

Gaming games are rooted deep into the culture of the Indians. It is not only a simple game to play, for them it has a connection with nature and spirituality. From the American and American government, Indian tribes received pieces of land that they were once driven out: these are reserves. The tribes started with gambling facilities on the reserves.

After entering the IGRA law, gambling was allowed on reserves. The law also released the tribes of paying taxes on the casinos. This created many jobs for Indians and they improved economically. Since the adoption of the law, the number of Indian casinos raised rapidly.

Is it possible to go to an Indian casino?

The casinos of the Indians can only be found in the US and USA. On reserves, to be precise. The number of casinos and gambling facilities in the possession of Indians is around 500. The reserves are mainly in Arizona, Utah, Montana, South Dakota and parts of USA. But also outside of that, you can find some; An example of this is the famous Foxwood. However, many casinos in the possession of Indians are in areas that are far removed from tourist attractions. So if you ever want to visit one, it is useful to find out where exactly they are.

Are Indian casinos legal?

Casinos in the possession of Indians are on a reserve and that means that you can gamble legally. Even if it is hardly allowed in the state where the reserve is. In the beginning these casinos were illegal, but this changed thanks to the Igra law. In this way people could also gamble in states where this was not allowed before. This contributed to the growth in the number of casinos managed by Indians.