Federal Bar Association

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A Whole New Ballgame: Reassessing the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act

IGRA Summary

Tribal gaming is one of the fastest growing segments of legalized gambling in the U.S. that includes high-stakes poker, slots, and bingo. Some estimates suggest that tribal gaming is a $30 billion industry.

Since the passage of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) of 1988, Native Americans have seen an extensive and transformative effect of gaming on their reservations and their economies. This legislation was a watershed in the history of policymaking and economics in Indian Country.

The IGRA set the stage for tribal government-owned gaming facilities and shaped how this new industry would develop and how tribal governments would invest gaming revenues. While on average there have been large improvements, the consequence of Indian gaming varies tremendously across tribes.

Indian Law Conference

2018 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the IGRA. Join the FBA Indian Law Section for its 43rd Annual Indian Law Conference on April 5-6, 2018 as panelists examine how tribal nations can use existing and new tools to effectively protect and secure their futures. To register, visit www.fedbar.org/indianlaw18.

“30 Years Later: IGRA and Economic Development” is a unique session that will explore the federal framework for tribal gaming, which is regulated by tribal governments, Congress, the Interior Department, and the National Indian Gaming Commission.

Speakers Jonodev Osceola Chaudhuri (Chairman, National Indian Gaming Commission), Sarah Harris (Mohegan Tribal Council), Del Laverdure (Arrow Creek Law, PLLP; Former Acting Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior), and Larry Roberts (Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP) will painstakingly explore the IGRA and delve into the legacy of the landmark case California v. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, 480 U.S. 202 (1987), which paved the way for the IGRA.

Has the intent of the IGRA to strengthen tribal self-determination and enhance tribes’ ability to provide critical governmental services through gaming revenues been fully realized? Attend the Indian Law Conference to survey the strengths and weaknesses of this statutory basis for the operation of gaming by Indian tribes.

Lessons Learned

The positive results of the IGRA on Indian Country include employment opportunities as well as critical funds to support hospitals, schools, senior citizen centers, and drug rehabilitation programs. Under the IGRA, revenues must be invested in the general welfare of the community and take place on tribal trust lands.

But the Indian Law Conference will uncover new insights about economic aims and social impacts of the IGRA from the vantage point of thirty years post-passage of the IGRA. Specifically, how will new technologies change the impact of the IGRA? After nearly three decades of investments in educational and social programs in Indian Country stemming from the IGRA, what lessons can we extract for future socioeconomic recovery?

Don’t miss the two-day Indian Law Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona April 5-6, 2018. Register now at www.fedbar.org/indianlaw18.


Stacy Slotnick, Esq. holds a J.D., cum laude, from Touro Law Center and a B.A., summa cum laude, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She performs a broad range of duties as an entertainment lawyer, including drafting and negotiating contracts; addressing and litigating trademark, copyright, patent, and other IP issues; and directing the strategy and implementation of public relations, blogging, and social media campaigns.

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