The potential impacts of Internet gaming legalization was a major topic at last month’s National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) convention. Another critical topic, not surprisingly, was economic diversification and Tribes’ ability to pursue and manage the process of planning for change.

Legalization of online gaming is gaining traction; a few states already have passed legislation allowing it. Should this trend continue, it has been estimated that Indian gaming revenues could take a hit of up to 25 percent. This would be disastrous for many Tribal communities whose economies are built upon gaming revenue as their sole economic pillar.

If there is a bright side to the potential challenges in the gaming industry, it is that many progressive, forward-thinking Tribal leaders have been planning for this day. As sovereign governments, Tribes must work to ensure a steady stream of revenues to fund services and provide for the well being of their communities and citizens for generations to come. Recognizing that there are potential declines in gaming returns, Tribes have prioritized economic diversification. Several tribes around the country have made disciplined steps to reach their future goals of having a diverse portfolio of economic initiatives to balance out their revenue opportunities for the future.


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