With the new Republican administration only a few weeks away from taking control of the White House, Senate and House, U.S. tribes are hopeful that president-elect Trump will provide support for tribal gaming operations.
Mark Macarro, tribal chairman of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians which owns the Pechanga Resort and Casino near Temecula, California, said, “We are at the very beginning of the Trump presidency and look forward to engaging the incoming administration about tribal issues in general.”
Other tribes are a bit leery of the incoming administration. Robert Martin, tribal Chairman of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians that own the Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa in Cabazon, points out that the tribe has had a positive and strong relationship with the Obama administration. Martin notes that it should very advantageous to have a former casino owner in the White House, but also knows that the House and the Senate will have plenty to say concerning tribal gaming legislation. With some Senators seeming to be in Sheldon Adelson’s pocket, it’s not a given that any new positive legislation will be smooth sailing. Martin was quoted as saying, “We are hopeful that a good relationship will continue with the incoming administration as we work to improve education, economic development, infrastructure, and job creation opportunities across all of Indian Country.”
President-elect Trump is no stranger to the gambling industry as he has owned casinos in Atlantic City and Indiana, although he does not currently own any gambling resort casinos. In the 1990’s he had contentious dealings with Native American Tribes as he tried to thwart competition against his Atlantic City casinos. But in 2000, that antagonism became a partnership with the Twentynine Palms Band of Mission Indians when the Spotlight 29 casino in Coachella was re-branded as Trump 29. Eventually, the tribe ended the partnership when they bought him out for $6 million.
On a side note, the American Gaming Association is also hoping that a positive association with the new administration will result in overturning a 25-year-long federal ban on sports betting. The AGA has outlined the casino industry’s priorities for 2017, one of which is sports betting legalization, in a correspondence to the Trump transition team. The Association released a statement, saying, “We are optimistic that states and tribes will soon have the option to choose if they wish to regulate sports betting in the same way (they) regulate other casino gaming products. But we still have work to do. President-elect Trump has expressed his view on sports betting and agreed that current laws have failed.”