Tribal-State Gaming Compacts and Revenue Sharing Provisions: Are the States Upping the Ante?


In the ten years following, the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Seminole Tribe v. Florida, Indian Gaming has grown to over a $19 billion a year industry, in 26 States, involving over 241 Approved Class III Tribal Gaming Ordinances. States have been eager to get a piece of this ever-increasing pie. Some commentators have predicted that States will be reluctant to enter into new compacts or renew existing compacts, however, other’s have indicated that States will continue to demand a percentages of Gaming revenues.

This comment addresses the central issue of whether the Tribal-State compacts entered into subsequent to the Seminole Tribe decision are valid reimbursements for fees expended in the regulation of Indian Gaming and bargained for exclusivity or whether the States are imposing an illegal tax on tribal enterprises engaged upon tribal lands. The development of Indian Gaming in the United States, sovereignty issues and the extent of the a state’s authority to tax Indian Tribes set the stage for laying the analytical framework for determining whether assessments contained in the Tribal-State compacts are a fee or a tax. Recent developments in the law set the stage for a review of various Tribal-State compacts and an analysis of the legality of their revenue sharing provisions. The comment details tribal plans for sustaining future independence in light of the current trend of States to demand increasing proportions of Tribal Gaming revenue. In summary, the comment addresses the status and direction of tribal-state revenue sharing provisions.


Administrative Law | Comparative and Foreign Law | Indigenous, Indian, and Aboriginal Law | Taxation-Federal | Taxation-State and Local | Taxation-Transnational | Tax Law

Date of this Version

September 2006