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NATIVE AMERICAN GAMBLING

In the United States, gambling was largely a small phenomenon. Restricted to the state of Nevada, it was not until the Native Americans opened gambling houses and bingo halls on their reservations that it became popular among the common people who did not have big bucks to spend.

The origins of Native American gambling are humble, indeed. In the early 1970s, Russell and Helen Bryan, a married Chippewa couple living in a mobile home on Indian lands in northern Minnesota, received a property tax bill of $147.95 from the local county, Itasca County. The Bryans had never received a property tax bill from the county before. The couple contested this in court, which finally ended up in the Supreme Court which ruled that the State did not have any rights over the activities conducted in the Native Reservation and was purely a Congressional and Federal matter.

This landmark judgement of the Supreme Court enabled the opening of casinos in the Native American Reservations that were not subject to regulation by state authorities.This ruling in a challenge to a tax bill of under $200 had the effect of enabling Indian tribes nationwide to earn over $200 billion in gaming revenue as of 2007

The case had a profound impact on the economy of the tribes- Tribes which were extremely poor without much land were now able to divert resources towards building gambling houses which led to a sharp rise in the wealth and economic status of these tribes.

However, states were afraid that the Native American Casinos would have an unfair advantage over other regulated houses, which led to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988. The stated purposes of the act include providing a legislative basis for the regulation of Indian gaming, protecting gaming for generating revenue for the tribes, encouraging economic and social development of these tribes, and protecting the enterprises from organized crime.

Thus, this humble beginning with the establishment of native bingo houses had ultimately led to the billion dollar gambling industry that the Native reservations currently boast of. However, with the advent of popular online bingo and casinos, the monopoly of the native tribes over gambling economy has considerably reduced.

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