Ca. Congressman Proposes Bill That Give Seminole Compact Huge Boost

Written By JR Duren on July 9, 2021
Rep. J. Luis Correa of California proposed a bill that would effectively end regulations limiting online tribal gambling.

The drama just keeps going.

This past week, Rep. J. Luis Correa, a Congressman from California, proposed a bill to the House of Representatives that would effectively end regulations limiting online tribal gambling. Correa has yet to submit the text of his bill, but he gave a speech before the House of Representatives explaining why he proposed the legislation.

“Tribal government gaming is the primary source of revenue for hundreds of tribal nations throughout this country who otherwise would not have the basic resources to provide for the health, safety and general welfare of their citizens and others who live on tribal lands,” Correa said to start his speech.

Correa’s bill could end Seminole compact controversy

Correa’s impassioned speech before the House touched on many things, perhaps none more important than this nugget about halfway through:

“This bill would clarify that for purposes of tribal government gaming, the location of the wager occurs at the location of the server, unless a state and Indian tribe otherwise agree,” Correa said. “Making this clarification will keep intact the current system of tribal gaming and eliminate any frivolous litigation.”

This section of Correa’s speech is a startling and clear call to legalize hub-and-spoke gaming models (online bets placed throughout the state that are routed through tribal servers). This matters in Florida because the compact between the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Sunshine State implements a hub-and-spoke model.

Furthermore, the bill comes at an opportune time for the Seminole. The tribe faces a lawsuit against its hub-and-spoke model and an imminent push from DraftKings and FanDuel to legalize sports betting throughout the state.

The former threat may have a good chance to succeed, as the Supreme Court of the United States and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals have concluded that existing laws governing tribal gaming don’t allow hub-and-spoke models.

The latter would end any chance of the Seminole tribe having exclusive rights over sports betting, rights which the current compact affords them.

Removing online tribal gaming restrictions is what the IGRA founders wanted

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) protects tribal gaming but federal courts have recognized the legislation doesn’t protect hub-and-spoke betting.

Correa argued that IGRA is outdated, and had its original authors lived in the internet age, they would’ve accommodated online tribal gaming.

“The federal law governing tribal gaming was enacted in 1988, prior to the internet being readily available, and the law does not expressly address the internet,” Correa argued. “I am introducing this bill to clarify the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and make clear what the congressional drafters would have done in 1988 had the internet been around at [the] time.”

He went on to clarify that his bill won’t legalize all forms of internet gaming; that’s up for the states to decide. But, for now, Correa noted that passing this bill would “eliminate any frivolous litigation.” This is an elimination the Seminole tribe would love to have.

JR Duren Avatar
Written by
JR Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the gambling beats for more than a dozen states for Catena Media since 2015. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun, and he is a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

View all posts by JR Duren