The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act


The act defines three classes of gambling and gaming: Class I: Social games solely for prizes of minimal value or traditional forms of Indian gaming engaged in by individuals as a part of, or in connection with, tribal ceremonies or celebrations.

Class II: All forms of bingo, and other games similar to bingo such as pull tabs, lotto, etc. and card games that are explicitly authorized by state law, not including blackjack, baccarat, or chemin de fer.

Class III: All forms of gaming that are not Class I gaming or Class II gaming.

Class I gaming is within the jurisdiction of the tribe.

Class II gaming is allowed if the state within which the tribe is located allows the gaming to anyone or under any conditions. A tribe is allowed to license and regulate Class II gaming on Indian lands.

Class III gaming requires a tribe-state compact. The National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) was established to approve the compacts and prevent abuses.

The IGRA is having a major impact on intergovernmental relationships among Indian tribes, states, and the federal government. First, the revenues generated have helped spur economic development in Indian country (which, too, supports the goals of tribal sovereignty and economic self-sufficiency). Second, intergovernmental conflicts have started between the tribes and the states over issues involving state sovereignty, criminal jurisdiction, and gambling revenues. Third, the IGRA ensures that the federal government maintains its position of supremacy over tribes and tribe/state relations.

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