In 2005, the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria bought 254 acres of land for $100 million in Rohnert Park, Michigan, in expectations of setting up a casino resort complex under the American gambling laws, specifically the 1988 Indian Gambling Regulatory Act, which sets the regulations for Indian gambling.
Just as many other new casino developments, this project is facing opposition in the form of a lawsuit. The case brought to the federal court questions the rights of this Indian tribal federation to run a land-based casino at this location. As some gambling law experts agree, the suit may delay the project, but not stop it.
What may hurt the project, though, is what most already know: the legalization of online casinos in United States which is happening now, at least in some states.
The legal challenges to sovereign rights of Indian-owned territories are often debated at the state and federal courts as well as by the Department of the Interior. As the current suit claims, the land in this case is regulated by the state law of Michigan. This changes quite a lot.
If state law applies, the land can’t be used for Class III gambling, which permits slot machines. The casino then could only offer Class II gambling. This class allows for card table games and bingo machines.
Given that online poker sites in United States may be allowed to operate again, even after recent busts, this will likely hurt land-based casinos. Indeed, online casinos frequently run poker tournaments that attract many players. After all, some competitions are easily accessible and offer small stake entry wagers.
This even moves further with online and mobile casino blackjack, roulette, and online slots tourneys. Surely, now land-based casinos need to fight hard to attract and retain gamblers. Even traditional Indian casino operators are seeking to enter the world of online gambling.