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Tribes Preparing For Legal Battle Over US Online Gambling

Indian tribes have long had their way in the US when it comes to casino gambling. Tribes all across the country have used their exempt tax status to open casinos on their reservations that have turned into profitable businesses. The tribes have controlled casino gambling in the country for decades.

In recent years, the sentiment has grown in the US for regulated online gambling. The religious sector and many Conservative lawmakers have come out against the idea of regulating online casinos, and now the form of gambling has an unusual opponent. Indian tribes are gearing up for a legal battle over the online casinos that have now been approved in places such as Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey.

The tribes do not want the online gambling eliminated, they simply want their cut of the action. Much like with land-based casinos, the tribes will try to force the federal government to include Native Americans in the online gaming industry. It is a battle that many experts believe the tribes will win.

"Once the first online casino is opened and regulated in the US, tribes across the nation will see that as a green light to open their own Internet gaming businesses," said Gaming Analyst Brad Dawkins. "There is precedent that exists that allows Native Americans to offer the same services that are legal in the state in which their reservation resides, and the tribes will undoubtedly not want to lose out on the billion dollar industry."

Over the past five years, the push has strengthened each year to regulate online gambling. Originally, it was federal legislators such as Representative Barney Frank that was the author of bills to regulate online gambling. An opinion last year, however, from the Department of Justice opened the door for individual states to start crafting their own online gambling laws.

Nevada, as was the case with land-based casinos, was the first to authorize online gambling. Nevada officials have been working diligently this year to get gaming companies licensed, and officials believe that online casinos will be operational in the state by the end of 2012 or early in 2013.

Other states have started to follow Nevada's lead. Delaware, the only other state in the US to offer sports betting, authorized Internet gambling earlier this year, as did New Jersey. Governor Chris Christie vetoed online gambling legislation last year, but has remained open to allowing the activity if the right bill came across his desk.

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