Earlier this summer it looked like a federal online gaming solution was unlikely in the face of recent piecemeal moves by states to legalize Internet play. But today’s Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Oversight hearing on Regulation of Tribal Gaming: From Brick & Mortar to the Internet suggests that reports of the demise of the federal regulatory solution were grossly exaggerated. In fact, the Committee has published a discussion draft of the “Tribal Online Gaming Act of 2012” or “TOGA.”
Expect this draft to be discussed in depth today at 2:15 p.m. eastern by a panel of experts and insiders. Testimony will be available via webcast.
If TOGA has legs, expect it to be debated heavily. Some of TOGA’s critical points:
• Any federalization of online gaming must provide positive economic benefits for Indian tribes since such a program would create thousands of jobs within the United States. • “Tribal online gaming” means only online poker. • The Secretary of Commerce shall oversee and regulate tribal online gaming – not the NIGC. • Tribes, consortiums of tribes, and “a consortium of tribe(s) and non-tribal entities” could be operators. • No Indian lands requirement appears to exist. • TOGA is not intended to affect compacts or cause them to be renegotiated. • A most-favored-games clause would allow tribes to offer games as they become legal – ostensibly beyond poker. • No state taxation of tribal online gaming revenue.
So, the TOGA party has started. Will it get busted (by the Congress)? If not, which tribal governmental operators will be let into the TOGA party? And which will be left out? The tribal online gaming fun has now officially begun.
Anthony Broadman is a partner at Galanda Broadman PLLC and focuses his practice on issues critical to Indian Country. He can be reached at 206.321.2672 and firstname.lastname@example.org.