The good and bad of tribal casinos
Since the Federal government gave the tribes more control over their economic growth, many of them started their own gambling centres. However, their operation several times conflicted with law. The result was that several states challenged the operation of these gambling centres or casinos. Still, they failed to persuade the Supreme Court which decided many cases favoring the tribes. To further clarify the situation, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was passed in 1988. Under this law, the tribes could operate a full scale casino on any reservation within the borders of the state that permitted gambling. The details of the operation of the casino were to be set in a tribal state compact. These casinos present the glamorous side of the American Indian picture in US. Heated discussion keeps going on regarding the tribal casinos. They are not just widely publicized but also criticized. A critical stereotype that these casinos gave birth to was that of wealthy American Indians or the Indian tribes being neck deep in money. These casinos did provide some benefits to the tribal economy but the kind of tribal financial boom that they are associated with is not a truth. Apart from it there are related problems of drugs, crime and bankruptcy which are a cause of worry. While money can be good for the tribes, gambling has its own side effects. Even legal gambling can have side effects that are not good for tribes.
There has been enough research over the advantages and disadvantages of tribal gambling. According to research there is both a positive and negative side to it. Still, the question that whether they are good or bad has never been fully tackled. So, if we are to rely on research then there is a sunny and a gloomy side to it. However, the Indian casinos grew at a staggering rate. This somewhere reflects the demand for gaming in US. Still, there are social and economic effects of gambling. The economic effects are mixed but the social effects are generally bad only. However, ask the tribals and more than half would respond that it has improved their life. A large part, nearly two third of tribal population believe that the effect of tribal gambling on the local society has been positive.
Several of the government programs enacted to improve the condition of tribal economy have failed. The most common problems affecting the tribal areas are lack of education, high alcoholism and discrimination. The rates of poverty and unemployment are the highest in these areas. In the past, apart from agriculture and tourism, these tribes have mainly relied on government aid for survival. Most of their attempts at business also failed. The tribal casinos stimulated the local economy. Supporters argue that the casinos are a pleasant change for the impoverished tribal areas. The stimulation they have provided to the tribal economy is still significant. Most of the tribes that have lived in utter poverty find this economic activity good. However, there are critics of tribal gaming as well. They do not believe that tribal casinos are as good for the health of the local communities. According to them, the benefits are passed on to a small section of the natives. Gambling is a vice whose benefits are neither real nor reliable or long lasting. It encourages drug abuse and theft. Apart from it money laundering and loan sharking also originate from gambling.
In reality some casinos have brought real and valuable benefits for the tribes too. Some of them have invested in creating jobs, bringing education and providing health care. These casinos are generating social value. So, if it is about the revival of the tribal economy, the casinos might have proved good. They brought employment, revenue and growth. Still, it is difficult to ignore the social ills arising from them. Loan sharking and crime have risen. Not a very large section of the tribal population gets the employment benefit from the casinos. The revenue they generate is not equally distributed either. Economically, tribal casinos might have done well and added some shine to tribal life. However, if we talk of tribal progress, the tribes people need better options. Other socially and economically beneficial enterprises might have been better for tribal life.