The Seminole Tribe opened a high stakes bingo parlor in Florida as the first casino that was owned by an indigenous group in December 1979.

The county sheriff issued a threat of closure shortly after the Seminoles opened. 

After a protracted legal battle, the Supreme Court determined in 1981 that the Seminoles had the right to run the parlor due to their sovereignty rights.

This prompted numerous Native American Tribes to open their own bars and casinos, which was understandable.

More than 500 national casino in the United States are now owned by Native Americans. 

But in what specific ways do these casinos differ from others found across the US?

1. Tribes are exempt from paying taxes on casino winnings, but employees and winners must

The taxation of Native American casinos is a little unclear.

Actually, everything is pretty obvious. The actions of the tribes may not be subject to taxation by the federal or state governments. 

This implies that the casinos are exempt from paying taxes to the federal or state governments, including on profits from their businesses.

However, there are frequently still agreements and requirements that require casinos to split their profits with the local states or counties.

It is taxable income when they give money to tribe members as salaries or profit sharing. People who receive money from general welfare or social benefit programs, however, are exempt from paying taxes.

Taxes are applicable to players as usual, so the IRS will want to know about any winnings from Native American casinos.

To assist with tax preparation, casinos can also provide win/loss statements for transactions made with loyalty cards.

2. Native American casinos generate more revenue from gambling than all the casinos on the Las Vegas Strip put together

Gross gaming revenues (GGR), which set a new record of $39 billion in fiscal year 2021, were up more than 40% from the previous year.

The Las Vegas Strip earned $7 billion in gross gaming revenue in the same year. These amounts do not include management fees, employee salaries, or other costs.

Of course, this comparison is not entirely fair because it contrasts the combined revenues of the roughly 30 casinos on the Las Vegas Strip with those of the roughly 500 casinos owned by tribes. 

However, it still demonstrates that, despite the fact that the Las Vegas Strip receives most of the media attention, operating casinos on native American reservations can be extremely profitable. 

3. Tribal casinos’ security personnel are only authorized to detain people, not to arrest them.

At the tribal casino near you, do you intend to cheat? Perhaps you should reconsider.

Security guards in Las Vegas are only allowed to observe and report, calling the police if any crimes are committed.

You are on sovereign territory when you visit Native American casinos. This implies that the casinos are typically patrolled by the local police force.

As a result, they have the authority to look into crimes, search suspects, and hold non-Indigenous people. 

However, Native American police forces are only permitted to detain and punish other Native Americans. 

Due to their limitations, Indigenous police forces frequently have to wait for non-Indigenous police forces to show up and formally complete arrests.  

4. The Palms Casino Resort is the first casino in Las Vegas that is owned by a Native American tribe

A hotel and casino resort with 703 rooms, Palms Casino Resort debuted in 2001. 

After trading hands a few times, Station Casinos paid $312.5 million to acquire Palms Casino Resort in 2016. A $620 million renovation was subsequently funded by the company. 

Palms closed at the start of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, similar to other Las Vegas casino resorts. Among other factors, this prompted Station Casinos to list Palms for sale. 

The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians would pay $650 million for the resort, it was announced in May 2021.

The Palms reopened on April 27, 2022, after a two-year closure, becoming the first Native American Tribe to own a Las Vegas casino resort as a result of this sale.

CEO of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Laurens Vosloo, stated the following prior to the sale’s completion: 

5. Games Are Not Regulated In The Customary Manner

Unlike casinos in Las Vegas, tribal casinos don’t have casino game regulations.

They must instead pass a gaming ordinance that has been approved by the National Indian Gaming Commission. This establishes the payment schedules and payout percentages for the casino. 

Additionally, there aren’t any established guidelines for how to display these payout percentages, so many players won’t be aware of the odds they face.

However, this does not imply that Native American casinos are more restrictive than casinos in other countries. Maybe even looser odds can be found in some casinos. 

It’s critical to keep in mind that most experiences are purely anecdotal because the rules can vary from casino to casino.

In general, however, it seems that table games are more forgiving at tribal casinos, whereas slot machines are a little bit tighter.

6. Some of the largest casinos in the world are operated by Native Americans

Numerous of the most well-known casinos in the world, including the MGM Cotai and The Venetian Macau, are renowned for their sizable gaming areas.

Gaming space at the MGM is about 500,000 square feet. A whopping 546,000 people visit The Venetian Macau. 

The WinStar World Casino and Resort, which is owned by the Chickasaw Nation and is located in Thackerville, Oklahoma, has the largest gaming floor in the entire world. 

The incredible 600,000 square feet of gaming space at this casino is almost as big as ten and a half football fields!

In Ledyard, Connecticut, there is another sizable casino that is owned by Native Americans.

Foxwoods, which is owned by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, has 344,000 square feet of gaming space, which is 2.7 times more than Caesars Palace.

7. Despite owning the land, the tribe is not permitted to operate the casino.

Native Americans do not necessarily run all casinos on Indigenous land, despite the fact that Indigenous land is sovereign.

Like any business, Native American-owned casinos frequently rely on investors, managers, and advisors to help the enterprise succeed. 

For instance, Caesars managed Native American casinos for years through Harrah’s before its merger with El Dorado Resorts. 

These included Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino and Hotel in North Carolina at the time of the merger, as well as Harrah’s Ak-Chin, located outside of Phoenix. 

Additionally, well-known businessmen have over the years been associated with tribal casinos.

In order to open what was then known as Trump 29 Casino, Donald Trump partnered with the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians of California, while Lim Goh Tong collaborated with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe for Foxwoods Casino.