July 5, 2021 Tribal, Land-Based

Common Cause


Ernest Stevens, Jr., chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association, speaks to Gaming America about the perseverance of native communities to thrive, with gaming as a centerpiece for success.

Since the passage of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) in 1988, Indian gaming has helped transform the economies of more than 240 native communities, providing a vital engine to generate tribal government revenue dedicated to improve the health, education, public safety, housing and other essential community services for tribal citizens.

Unlike commercial gaming, the tribal government gaming operations serve as the anchor for employment and economic development for natives and nearby communities. We're proud that Indian gaming is the largest segment of overall gaming in North America, bringing in an annual total of $39.1 billion.

With 241 tribes in 29 states operating 488 gaming facilities, Indian gaming also ranks as the 11th largest private employer in the United States, behind companies such as Walmart, Amazon and Target. Plus, Indian gaming operations have supported 308,712direct jobs and 766,944 direct and indirect jobs created through tribal government gaming, and in several states, tribes are the largest employer in the region.

Tribal nations have accomplished these gains through responsible growth and unmatched gaming regulation, always in diligent defense of our tribal sovereignty.

We work to be the best in all categories in our industry because our citizens receive the benefits. We are committed to engage with tribal operators and ensure that your business has a direct, positive impact on communities rather than individual stakeholders. Furthermore, revenues generated from any tribally-owned business or operation goes toward funding the livelihoods of tribal citizens and tribal governments.

Our tribal gaming industry has been established as gaming experts and inevitably, we have become outstanding neighbors to many cities where tribal government gaming exists. Like everyone else, we too were hit hard by the pandemic, but tribes continue to be committed to working toward building back. And since the inception of the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA), we have continued to be at the forefront in Washington, DC, committed to protecting and preserving the general welfare of tribes striving for self-sufficiency through gaming enterprises, and maintaining and protecting Indian sovereign governmental authority in Indian country. This includes engaging and educating any administration and Congress to ensure that Indian country is prioritized in all efforts, and to hold public officials accountable for honoring tribal sovereignty, and trust responsibility to tribal government.

Of course, a major highlight of our organization is our annual tradeshow and convention. This gathering is the largest of tribal leaders and casino executives in the country and it serves to deliver new insights and strategies for operators providing access to industry leaders and cutting-edge trends to help generate new revenues to support their local communities. It also presents attendees with current trends and information on federal legislative and administrative policy issues.

This year, NIGA is thrilled to bring the gaming community together again face to face from July 19 to 22 at the new Caesars Forum convention center in Las Vegas.

We're also excited that the event is together with The RES, the Reservation Economic Summit, creating the premier opportunity to reach tribal leaders and decision-makers. Our two great organizations have a long history of supporting one another. In this unique year, the joint venture helps coordinate our two shows in one city with safety for our attendees in mind.

It’s more important than ever for Indian country to unite as we rebuild tribal businesses following the pandemic because continuing to build a secure future is most important, by building upon the success of tribal communities through gaming.

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