Indian Gaming and Online Bingo

In the US, Native American reservations have traditionally been poverty stricken. Usually located in rural areas with few chances for living wage employment, reservations were all but forgotten until recent times. Court decisions in the late 80’s allowed gaming on reservations and many tribes took advantage of the decisions and established casinos. Many of these casinos have become popular tourist destinations and provide a source of income for tribal councils and fund social services and provide jobs for tribal members.

In 2008 revenue from Indian gaming was $26.7 billion a $500 million increase from 2007. Many tribes have established bingo halls with a high degree of success. In 1979 the Seminole tribe opened a high stakes bingo hall on their reservation. The state of Florida tried to shut it down but the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of the tribe and the bingo hall stayed. The Seminole bingo hall is considered the birth of Indian gaming.

Bingo halls became popular attractions on several reservations and the high stakes games attracted many visitors. Some industry experts credit bingo for helping tribes make great economic strides. Bingo has helped many tribes down the path to economic self sufficiency. Bingo has also helped surrounding communities and Indian bingo halls have provided jobs for many non Indians.

In Europe many land based bingo operators have taken advantage of the opportunities offered by online bingo. At present, thanks to the ill advised Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, this option is not open to tribal bingo halls. There is a move afoot in the US congress to repeal the act led by Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank that would tax and regulate online gaming. This would open up the world of internet bingo to tribal bingo operators. Already many entrenched casino interests in the US have expressed interest in online gambling including internet bingo games. It is only a matter of time before the descendants of the first Americans enter the world of online bingo.