There is a belief amongst many people that Native Americans have all become fabulously wealthy due to the success of the various Indian casinos scattered across the country. However although this would be nice to believe, the reality is somewhat different and most Native Americans see little or no benefit from any of the multi-million dollar casinos that exist,
There is one fundamental economic truth that’s worth remembering that Native Americans are the US’s poorest people and that fact has not changed over the last few decades. First of all it’s best to dispel the belief that all Native American tribes have gambling interests, in reality less than half of them have any gambling assets at all. Of the 556 Indian nations only about 220 have any involvement in gaming at all. The reasons for this are varied, but mostly it’s practical due to the geographical locations – there’s little call for a casino in some of the rural and low population areas that many tribes reside in.
One of the main problems with these false perceptions is that people tend to focus on the tribes who have had spectacular success. Certainly some tribes like the Mashantucket Pequot tribe in Connecticut and the Sioux Community in Minnesota have done extremely well from gambling. These are however fairly isolated success stories, with the two aforementioned generating something like 40% of all Native American gaming revenue ironically shared between two of the smaller tribes. If we look at the majority of the other 175 odd enterprises, most of them are barely profitable, they are also continually under pressure from internet based casinos from places like the UK and all over the world.
One of the benefits of the operations, even among those not incredibly profitable is that they do provide employment opportunities which are much needed in the Native American reservations. This is a real benefit however despite these job possibilities the unemployment rate amongst the Indian tribes remains stubbornly high at approximately 15% – well above the national average.
The most telling fact though is the actual revenue generated by all these Indian gaming enterprises. The fact is that if all the revenue was distributed evenly amongst all the Native American Indians in the USA, it is estimated that it would not get the average Indian per capita income anywhere near to the national average.
There’s no doubt that many Native Americans have benefited from the gaming licenses however we shouldn’t think that their inequalities still don’t exists.