US Congress to Address Mobile Wagering via Tribal Land Servers

A proposal put forward in US Congress is seeking to address the issue of whether wagers placed online via servers located on tribal land are tantamount to being physically present on tribal land and placing a wager in person.

House Bill 4308

Proposed by US Congressman Luis Correa from California and US Congressman John Katno from New York, House Bill 4308 is looking to redefine wagers placed via servers located on tribal land, and equate remote gambling at such servers to in-person betting. The draft legislation seeks to remove existing federal barriers to mobile wagering on Indian lands should there be an agreement between the state and the tribe.

According to one of the bill sponsors, Luis Correa, hundreds of tribal nations across the country would not be able to ensure the basic needs and general welfare of their communities were it not for gaming, which has proved to be the primary source of revenue for tribal governments.

But as more and more states are beginning to open the doors for legalized sports betting, Correa continued, the industry is evolving by further utilizing the potential presented by the internet, allowing sophisticated, well-financed digital companies to emerge and change the industry.

As for the tribes, Correa believes they need to have legal clarity before embarking on any significant investments in online gambling, suggesting online tribal gaming should no longer “continue to be primarily governed by the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act”.

IGRA Makes No Provisions for Online Betting

According to the US Congressman, IGRA, which was enacted back in 1988 when there was no internet, does not make any provisions for the online gaming vertical, but as “setting up these new gaming systems involves significant financial investments”, tribal governments need to have the clarity and comfort of knowing “what laws will apply to them”.

Passage of House Bill 4308 will provide the legal ground for courts to dismiss cases like the one filed by Southwest Parimutuels in Florida against the gaming compact the Seminole Tribe and the state agreed.

In its complaint, one of the oldest pari-mutuel operators in Florida argues that IGRA sets the criteria to define which bet is considered as placed on tribal land and that wagers placed anywhere in the state via servers located on tribal land do not constitute tribal land wagering.

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