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Taxation, Gaming and Revenue-Sharing Overview

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Updated October 2011

Tax dollars pay for a myriad of everyday services, such as education, trash collection and public safety.  This revenue is crucial to any government and tribal governments use their revenues to fund the same services other governments do, including road maintenance, police and fire protection, schools, recreational facilities and nursing homes.

Some of this revenue has come from gaming ventures on Indian reservations.  During the past two decades, several tribes have become involved in gaming since their right to do so was confirmed by Congress, but only a very few have become extremely successful from their casinos.  Currently, several compacts or agreements between tribes, governors and state legislatures are in place, based upon the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) of 1988.

The complicated nature of taxation between the states and tribes has raised concerns on both sides, yet several states and tribes have chosen to negotiate tax revenue agreements that can serve the financial interests of all affected parties.  In nonadversarial environments, they have discussed revenue needs and economic concerns and have avoided expensive and time-consuming litigation.

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slot machineResources:

  • Adobe PDF  Tribal Gaming in the States, a survey that compares information on tribal gaming across the country.

  •  "Indian Gaming in the States: Dispelling Myths and Highlighting Advantages," States and Tribes: Building New Traditions, January 2005, by Sia Davis and Jane Feustel. (for copies, email state-tribal-info@ncsl.org or call (303) 364-7700).

  • "Piecing Together the State-Tribal Tax Puzzle," States and Tribes: Building New Traditions, March 2005, by Judy Zelio. (for copies , email state-tribal-info@ncsl.org or call (303) 364-7700).

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