Impacts of the Latest DOJ Wire Act Opinion on the Indian Gaming Industry
This week, the U.S. Department of Justice released a legal opinion, which found that the Federal Wire Act imposes a criminal prohibition against all forms of online gambling. The opinion reversed the 2011 Obama era DOJ memo, which found that the Wire Act is limited to online sports betting.
In large part because of the 2011 DOJ opinion, it left many unresolved legal questions, and no Indian tribal government officially moved its operations under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act online. As a result, the most recent DOJ Wire Act opinion will have little impact on the Indian gaming industry that providesa steady source of revenue for more than 240 tribes in 29 states.
The federal debate surrounding the legality of Internet gambling has been ongoing for two decades. The debate holds great importance to the National Indian Gaming Association and its Member Tribes. Responding to DOJ's most recent opinion, NIGA Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr. acknowledged, "We are reviewing the opinion, but expect that like the 2011 opinion it poses more questions than answers. Any changes in the gaming landscape hold great importance to our Member Tribes."
Indian gaming has responsibly grown into a $32.4 billion industry that is rebuilding tribal communities, educating a generation of new Native leaders, and providing jobs to nearly 700,000 American families -- Indian and non-Indian alike.Since the early 1970s, tribal governments have taken great strides in making the policy of self-determination work to heal the harms inflicted by many of the failed policies of forced Assimilation, Allotment, and Termination.
The National Indian Gaming Association will continue to monitor the political landscape as it relates to the Gaming Industry overall. We will serve as an information gathering and information sharing resource for our Member Tribes.
Ernest L. Stevens, Jr. is the Chairman and national spokesman for the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) in Washington, DC. Stevens is currently serving his ninth two-year term as the organization's leader. NIGA, established in 1985, is a non-profit organization of 184 Indian Nations with other non-voting associate members representing tribes and businesses engaged in tribal gaming enterprises from around the country. He is an enrolled member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin