In 1987, the Supreme Court ruled in California vs. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians that tribal governments had the rights to establish gaming operations independent of state regulation. The very next year, Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which worked towards developing a manageable framework for Indian Gaming.
While authority over Class II gaming was left to the tribes, Class III gaming required a compact between the tribe and the state. In Oklahoma, the Indian tribes regulate both Class II and Class III, although they are still subject to the provisions set out in the IGRA.
So what’s the difference between Class II and Class III? Class II games are generally defined as bingo, lotto, pull tab, and punch board games. Class III includes electronic bingo games, non-house banked card games, and electronic amusement games.
This legal decision was very important and had an immediate impact on the Indian tribes throughout the Unites States. One of the states where it made the biggest impact was in Oklahoma. From Bristow to Stringtown, Lone Grove to Seminole, tribal leaders began developing strategies to make use of this ruling for the betterment of their people.
Under this federal law, gambling can only be conducted on “Indian Land.” According to federal law, “Indian Land” is defined as:
a. Land which is a part of a federally-recognized Indian reservation, or
b. Not located on a reservation, but held in trust by the federal government for an Indian tribe.
In Oklahoma, these gaming compacts are in effect until their date on January 1st, 2020. If, however, the tribes and state both agreed to do so, the compact could be terminated at any time before then.
As for the proceeds collected from these gambling operations, the IGRA requires the net revenues to be used for the following purposes:
a. To help fund operations of local government agencies.
b. To donate to charitable organizations.
c. To promote economic development within the tribe.
d. To provide for the welfare of the Indian tribe and its members.
e. To fund tribal government operations.
The tribe can also distribute net revenue to members of the tribe in the form of a per capita payment. To do so, the tribe must have a RAP (Revenue Allocation Plan), which must be approved by the Secretary of the Interior.
According to the Federal Register, the following 32 tribes have entered into gaming compacts with the State of Oklahoma: Absentee Shawnee Tribe, Apache Tribe, Caddo Nation of Oklahoma, Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribes, Chickasaw Nation, Choctaw Nation, Comanche Nation, Delaware Nation, Eastern Shawnee Tribe, Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma, Kaw Nation of Oklahoma, Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma, Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma, Miami Nation, Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma, Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Osage Nation, Otoe-Missouria Tribe, Ottawa Tribe, Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, Peoria Tribe of Oklahoma, Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma, Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma, Sac & Fox Nation, Seminole Nation, Seneca-Cayuga Tribes of Oklahoma, Thlopthlocco Tribal Town, Tonkawa Tribe, Wichita and Affiliated Tribes, and the Wyandotte Nation.