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American Indians Eye the Internet for Casino Growth

13 November 2000

IDAHO – Nov. 13, 2000 – As reported by Business 2.0: "…[In] 1997, the Coeur D'Alene tribe broke new ground. That was the year the tribe extended its Northern Idaho reservation-based casino and bingo hall into an online franchise called US Lottery, becoming the first American Indian-owned online casino.

"…Less than a year after US Lottery launched, the tribe shut it down after losing a court case in Missouri that called into question the limits of both Indian sovereignty and the Internet.

"…`It's very frustrating,' says David Matheson, the Coeur D'Alene tribe's chief executive officer of gaming, in reference to what it's like to watch the Internet gambling market grow but not be able to participate

"…To Matheson, who left his job with the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C. to come back home and get the casino running, the Internet held obvious advantages--especially for a business anchored in out-of-the-way Idaho.

"… Since the U.S. government has little control over offshore gambling, analysts say lawmakers would be wise to regulate Internet gambling, rather than prohibit it.

"…And since an estimated 80 percent of Internet gamblers are from the United States, according to gambling analyst Sebastian Sinclair, the U.S. government would seem to have a vested interest in making it safe.

"However, regulated Internet gambling would not automatically mean that tribes like the Coeur D'Alenes could quickly find their place in the market, says Sinclair. Indian-owned casinos would face formidable competition from more well-known companies and casinos that consumers may be more likely to trust with their money.

"…While that may be true, American Indian-based casinos certainly have the most to gain from the Internet gambling market, according to John Tahsuda from the National Indian Gaming Association…"

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