The Supreme Court's decision in Seminole Tribe v. lorida comes at a critical moment not only in the controversy over states' rights, but also in the regulation of Indian gaming. Gambling in the United States has increased dramatically in recent years. Indian reservations account for much of this growth: at this writing, over 170 Indian casinos and bingo halls gross approximately $5 billion per year. The regulation of Indian gaming thus inevitably implicates issues transcending reservations' boundaries, and, conversely, the looser regulation of other forms of gambling may well threaten the continued viability of Indian gaming. The federal government, which has plenary power to regulate relations with the Indian tribes under the Constitution, sees the growth of gambling on Indian lands as "a means of promoting tribal economic development, self-sufficiency, and strong tribal governments." State governments, by contrast, have often opposed the expansion of Indian gaming because of public policy concerns about gambling per se and because Indian casinos compete with non-Indian gaming operations that constitute a significant source of state revenues. The differing agendas of the federal and state governments have raised fundamental questions of federalism. This conflict has led to inconsistency and controversy in the enforcement of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 (IGRA), ironically passed by Congress to resolve similar federal-state constitutional disputes. Although the Supreme Court's decision in Seminole resolves some of the uncertainty surrounding the IGRA, it may have raised more questions than it answered.
"Developments in Policy: Federal Indian Law,"
Yale Law & Policy Review: Vol. 14
, Article 8.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/ylpr/vol14/iss1/8