Casinos have been popping up right and left on Native American tribal lands, ever since American gambling laws legalized casinos in tribal jurisdictions in 1987. With 240 tribes operating over 250 casinos and some 200 other gaming establishments, Indian Gambling has grown into a USD 27 billion industry in the US.
The impending return of the American internet casino age, however, has forced Native American gambling operators to give some serious thought to short-term and mid-term strategy. While several tribes have petitioned for a ban, reasoning that competition would hurt them, others have decided to embrace progress head-on.
Among them is the Shoshone Nation of Nevada under the leadership of Chief William Bills, who just signed an agreement with the Canadian company GEObet Network to create an online casino by May 1st 2013. Due to domestic restrictions, the planned gambling destination will only cater to players outside the US and Canada, until it ceases to be a federal offense to spin the virtual roulette wheel or to play online poker in America.
An interesting facet of the story is that said tribe has not been licensed to operate a brick-and-mortar casino and therefore anything they establish will remain strictly digital. Other tribes, which run land-based casinos or gambling halls, have been setting up free to play sites in order to attract players while awaiting legalization.
The freeplay solution, however, was not one that the Shoshones were keen on applying. According to GEObet founder Gerry Gionet, “moving to a full play-for-money online Casino is a better entry point for the Shoshone Nation.”
He went on to argue that “the play-for-free market is heavily oversaturated […]. We believe the Shoshone’s will gain valuable experience in e-commerce and Internet gaming by taking this approach
The tribe also sounded a cautiously optimistic chord. Chief William Bills said, “We need to walk before we run with any business but it is important for us to walk the correct path. Play for Free is being sold as an entry point and so far it has not proven to be a successful entry tool for data collection.”
“We believe that opening for commercial business online is the correct path and GEObet Network is providing the pathway for us,” emphasized Chief Bills.