Are All US Casinos Owned By Indian Tribes?

Many people ask whether all US casinos are owned by the Indian tribes. We've dedicated this article to providing you with all the information you need to know about tribal casinos and how they operate.

The lack of the right and sufficient information has led to many misconceptions about Indian casinos in the US. If you are an online casino gambling enthusiast in the United States, it is essential to know the Native American tribes and how they are different from other gambling platforms and venues.

The unique thing about these casinos is that they abide by the state and federal laws that do not apply to other casinos. Additionally, the tribal clans are allowed to create their own gambling establishments so long as they are within the borders of their reservation lands.

Furthermore, all activities in the Indian casinos are regulated by the tribal government of the land where the casino is established. One of the crucial clauses of the legislation related to tribal casinos is the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act which lists the requirements for such a casino to exist.

Delve deeper and learn more about tribal gaming, how they operate, and some of the most popular and recommended Native American casinos.

A Brief Background of Native American Casinos

The story of casinos owned by the tribal clans collides with the history of the native Americans seeking independence. It was this legal dispute that led to the creation of federal law.

It was in 1976 when the United States first discussed the case of Native American tribal sovereignty. 

A member from the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe was the first to open a case after he was taxed on his mobile phone located on the reservation land.

After several rulings by lower courts, the Supreme Court ruled that the state did not have the authority to impose taxes on any activities happening on the tribal lands. Also, the court put it clear that the state had absolutely no powers to impose restrictions on all tribes recognized and permitted by the state.

First Native American Casino

The first tribal casino was established in Florida in 1979 and was used as a bingo hall. It was built by the Seminole tribe, and its success attracted over 150 tribes to start operating casinos. After several court cases, the court ruled that all Native American casinos must adhere to federal government laws.

Federal legislation was created to enable the regulatory framework, helped by Senators Daniel Inouye and John McCain. The Senate passed S.555 bill in September 1988.

Enactment of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA)

On October 17, 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). The new bill allowed tribal clans to collect revenue from gaming while protecting them from exploitation. The IGRA created an agency within the Department of Interior called the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) to regulate all tribal casinos in the US.

This law put tribal gaming operations into three main classes:

  • Class I - This class refers to all forms of traditional gaming that occur during ceremonies and social gatherings. The payouts from these games are small, and they can be offered without an official license.
  • Class II - This class covers all games of luck, including bingo, keno, and pull tabs. Any tribe wishing to offer class II gaming must abide by the NIGC policies. However, clans that are prohibited by the state cannot offer class II games.
  • Class III - To provide games that are not listed in Class I and Class II gaming, you must move to class III gaming which covers popular real money casino games like slot machines, roulette, blackjack, and craps. The NIGC must enter into tribal-state gaming compacts to offer class III games.

Best Indian Reservation Casinos

There are 515 tribal casinos as of June 2022. These casinos are located in 29 states scattered across the United States. The vast selection makes it difficult to choose the best casino hotel to visit. We've saved you the time and hassle of researching by recommending a list of the best Indian casinos. They include:

Foxwoods Resort Casino

Foxwoods Resort Casino is the second largest tribal casino. This casino hotel is located in Mashantucket, CT, and is owned by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe Nation. It stands out for offering more than 3000 class ii slot machines, 250 table games, and over 114 poker games. The casino floor is 344,400 square feet and hosts the Lake of Isles golf course.

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel

The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel opened its doors to the public in 2004. The casino hotel is owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida. It has approximately 250,000 square feet of floor space with 5000 slots, around 180 table games, and an exclusive poker room with more than 50 tables. Other special features of the casino resort include a spa & salon, a ballroom, and pools.

Mohegan Sun Casino

The Mogan Sun Casino was established in 1996 and is owned by the MoheganTribal Gaming Authority. The casino is located in Uncasville and is renowned for its different dining options. Customers can have 24 access 300 table games, 42 poker tables, 5000 slot machines, and keno.

Choctaw Casino Resort

The Choctaw Casino was launched in 2006 and is owned by the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. The casino has undergone several renovations that have made it bigger than it was before. It boasts a vast 220 000 casino floor, and players can choose from popular 50 table games, 26 poker tables, and 4300 slot machines. Also, there are exclusive dining and entertainment options for guests.

Mystic Lake Casino Hotel

The Mystic Lake Casino is one of the biggest casinos in the Midwest. This casino is owned by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Tribe and is located in Prior Lake, MN. The 150,000-square feet casino has 4000 slot machines, pull tabs, 1000 blackjack games, and plenty of bingo halls. The unique thing about this casino resort is that it rewards exclusive bonuses to gamers 55 years and older.

Hard Rock Hotel and Casino

Hard Rock Hotel Casino promises guests world-class entertainment in Atlantic City. It is set on a 17-acre piece of land and is designed with the best features. Guests can choose from 22000 slots, more than 120 table games, and a sportsbook. What's more is that Hard Rock Hotel Casino offers dining, spa & fitness, shopping, and other services.

The list of top tribal casinos in the US is endless. In addition to the top brands we've recommended, you can visit; Rivers Casino Resort, Cherokee Casino Tulsa, Wild Horse Casino, Mardi Gras Casino, Riverboat Casino, Clans Casino Red Lake, Paradise Casino, Konocti Vista Casino, Croix Casino Danbury, Point Casino, Mill Casino, Fox Casino, Rancheria Casino, Swinomish Casino, and Coeur D'Alene Casino.

What Makes Tribal Casinos Different from the Commercial Ones?

The two main online casinos in the United States are the Indian reservations and the commercial casinos. Though they are different from each other and they offer the same types of games. The following factors will help you to understand how these two differ from one another:

Casino Location

The first noticeable difference is the location of these casinos. The Native American casinos must be established in the tribal land, while commercial casinos can be built in any place approved by the state and local authorities.

Size of the Establishment

Indian reservation casinos are much bigger in floor space than popular casino resorts in Atlantic City and Las Vegas. The tribal casinos sit on an expansive land while their counterparts are limited by the congested cities.

Casino Branding

Another key difference between the Native American casinos and the commercial ones is branding. The tribal casinos stand out as they use traditional images and symbols. On the other hand, commercial casinos have different themes.

Payout Percentages

The payout percentage in tribal casinos is much lower than what you will find in commercial online casino games. This is because the latter games must comply with the state's laws.

Regulatory Framework

All commercial casinos must obtain a license from the state gambling commission to offer gaming services, whereas tribal casinos are regulated by federal law.

Profits and Revenue

The Native American casinos contribute to around 43% of the annual gaming revenue in the United States. These casinos are exempted from taxes because the states cannot tax any activities on the reserved lands.

Available Games

commercial casinos are known for their wide range of games, including slots, table games, and live dealers. The games you play at Indian casinos depend on the class. Class II slot machines are limited to tribal casinos, and class III games are offered at commercial casinos.

Operating Hours and Beverages

The hours of operating the two casinos vary significantly. The commercial casinos are expected to operate within a specific time, except for a few that run 24 hours. However, there are no such restrictions at most Indian casinos.

Do Indian Tribes Own all US Casinos?

Not all US casinos are owned by Native Americans. These casinos are owned and operated by different groups, but they are all established on reservation lands. As earlier mentioned, they are unique from commercial casinos because they don't follow state laws. They are able to establish massive, magnificent casino hotels because they don't pay taxes to the state like their counterparts.

The Bottom Line

At this point, we believe you have found the answers you've been looking for about tribal casinos. The Indian gaming association has been to the growth of gambling in the United States. The revenue generated from these casinos has been used to develop better structures across the states. Nevertheless, before venturing into these casino games, it is important to practice. Make sure you visit the Indian casino operators we have recommended.


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