There has been plenty of speculation already that more than one tribe in the US is thinking about expanding into running businesses such as a casino online rather than sticking to the land based venues which are commonly found on Indian reservations, and now there has been another solid move from a tribe who want to make their intentions known. The Lac du Flambeau Chippewas have begun a payday loan business over the internet, which also has all of the trappings in place to turn into an online casino business should they find themselves with a license which would allow them to launch it right away.
“The Internet is a robust environment to grow our economy, and we’re looking for ways to leverage (the tribe’s) sovereignty in a responsible manner,” said Brent McFarland, the Lac du Flambeau’s director of business development. “We see the Internet as a tremendous opportunity to do that.” Tribe president Tom Maulson has also spoken out about the fact that the tribe sees this as a legal way to gain cash, which is certainly necessary after plenty of cash flow problems which have haunted the tribe. Since May they have launched three new online payday lending companies, two of which came online recently, and have set up the infrastructure for an Internet casino. Maulson says that if they were granted the licence to run an online casino, they could flip the switch on the site – which currently uses play money – and turn it into a real cash casino which could generate real revenue for them. The tribe may not have to wait long for a law change before they start taking online bets, as they already have plans to do so through intimate connections which are available within the boundaries of the Tribes reservation. They are driving force in the Tribal Internet Gaming Alliance, a group who are hoping to launch a multi-tribe online casino which would take bets after launching.
The casino would only be able to offer poker, bingo, and high-speed video slots which are linked to bingo (known as class II gaming) until there were changes to legislation, but they are not alone in looking to the Internet as a way to get revenue. There are around two dozen tribes across the US who have launched short-term lending operations online, and many of them are already talking about the potential of online gaming. As sovereign governments, Tribes seek to operate their businesses in accordance with both tribal and federal law, but this means that they are often outside of the normal rules which are required for private companies launching online casinos all running their own land-based casinos. It remains to be seen whether they will have their own set of legislations which allow them to run online casinos in a different way to private companies, or whether they will simply have to go through the licensing process that everyone else does, but it is certain that this could be a great new source of revenue for many ailing tribes.