Gaming tribes in the U.S. are ambivalent about the prospect of sports betting.

Various states have begun to look at legalizing it, or have already done so.

legalizing Many tribes believe they already have an exclusive right to offer sports betting, guaranteed to them by their gaming compacts.

Opponents of this attitude point out that few compacts actually mention sportsbooks, which only became legal in 2018,

when the Supreme Court lifted the federal ban.

Tribes that insist their monopoly includes sports betting have put the brakes on its legalization,

and given that tribal gaming often powers one of the biggest lobbying groups in a state, lawmakers pay attention to their concerns.

Yet tribes question the value of sports betting mobile apps,

legalizing even though that technology is a natural progression, and, as has been shown in New Jersey,

is where the most profits are made.

They are skeptical, even when the apps are anchored in a tribal casino.

Since many tribal casinos are remotely located,

tribes fear that if customers can bet remotely, they will be less likely to visit the bricks-and-mortar properties.

Case in point, tribes in Minnesota are concerned that sports wagering apps will discourage foot traffic to their casinos.

John McCarthy, executive director of the Minnesota Indian Gambling Association told Sports Handle,

“Our major concern is the mobile gambling.

We’ve been fighting that forever.

Why would you get up on a 20-below-zero-day and come out to the casino when you could just sit at home?

“We’re not opposed in any way to sports betting as an activity,” he said, “but we are concerned about what mobile leads to.”

The association’s position is that any mobile gaming is a negative.

And since many tribes depend on the casino to fund their government, provide services and give them a sense of pride,

this is a major concern. They have the attitude that once the camel’s nose is under the tent, the tent will collapse.

Moreover, according to McCarthy, the monetary benefits from sports betting are comparatively not that great.

“We don’t think it’s a huge amenity,” he said.

“We’ve seen how it works.

 The first thing that starts to go is the live racing at racinos. Then they go back to the legislature and say, ‘We’re not quite making it, we really need some machines,’

and then other groups come in and say, ‘Well, you’re bailing them out,

I’m a farmer, so why don’t you bail me out?’”

‘The Strongest Opportunity’?

This attitude isn’t shared by the Pequot and Mohegan tribes,

which operate two of the largest casinos in the world, in Connecticut.

At a recent legislative hearing, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, owner of Foxwoods Resort Casino,

sent a written statement that said, “As we see it,

the strongest opportunity for the state is in legalizing statewide iGaming,

another activity that is currently operating for Connecticut residents in the black market today.”

It added, “The tribes believe sports gambling,

daily fantasy sports betting and i Gaming fall under the exclusivity agreement.”

Washington’s tribes have taken the same stance.

But in that state, a tribal-only bill drew major opposition, and many other interests insisted that they wanted to be included, such as taverns,

card rooms, OTBs and racetracks.

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