Opinion: NIGC regulations will hurt Oklahoma

"Last week, U.S. Reps. Dan Boren and Tom Cole held congressional oversight hearings in Miami, Okla., to investigate the economic impact of proposed federal rules to limit Class II Indian Gaming. The testimony was dramatic. Tribal and local government leaders testified to the tremendous economic advantages Indian gaming has brought to Oklahoma—highlighting how far state-tribal relationships have come in recent years.

Class II gaming has long been present in Oklahoma. Indeed, the success of Class II electronically aided bingo paved the way for the 2004 voter-approved tribal-state compact, allowing additional Class III gaming devices (similar to slot machines).

The compact has worked well, and Oklahoma has received more than $80 million for use in education and increased teacher pay. But, Class III shared revenues are only a small part of the story.

In Oklahoma, 33 tribes have Class III compacts and there are approximately 30,000 Class II gaming devices as of 2006. Oklahoma Indian gaming generated nearly $2.5 billion of tribal government revenue and grew by 25 percent.

Non-Indians and local businesses also benefit. Around 75 percent of all employees of tribal gaming operations are non-Indian and many are female. As the oversight committee heard, for every $100 the tribe generates, an additional $2,500 is pumped into the local community purchases."

Get the Story:
D. Michael McBride III: Proposed federal gaming rules will hurt Oklahoma (The Tulsa World 3/9)

Related Story:
Border bets pay off for tribes (The Tulsa World 3/9)