Red Man’s Revenge – Cashing In

It appears that the Red Man is getting even with the White Man, at least in Oklahoma he is.  We are now second in the nation for gambling casino’s, we have tax free Indian smoke shops, the lottery in just about every Root N Scoot (convenience store) and our state is alive with gambling in one form or the other. 

State revenues from Indian gaming have soared in recent years, largely due to the success of casinos operated by the Chickasaw, Choctaw and Cherokee nations.  Combined, the three tribes are responsible for 58 percent of the record $118.2 million in gaming fees paid to the state last fiscal year by 30 Indian tribes, according to records obtained from the Office of State Finance.

Now I have to wonder about something?

If you do not have to pay a tax on cigarettes sold on Indian land (sovereign nations) then why do you have to agree to sign a document on Federal Income Tax on casino wins over $1,200.00?

As far back as 1831 the courts have ruled that it had no original jurisdiction in such matters.  This was based on the fact that the Cherokee were a dependent nation, with a relationship to the United States like that of a ward to its guardian. The court ruling can be found here.

Indian casino operators also maintain their own police and/or security, they apparently are above local laws, so why are we required to pay a tribute to the Federal government (I.R.S.) when we win funds that are clearly being generated and disbursed on Indian Land (sovereign nations).  It seems to me that this money is being generated and disbursed outside the United States of America. 

From the perspective of the State, it is good news. 

It is all about the money when it comes to the State.  Oklahoma Indian tribes paid the state a record $118.2 million in gaming fees during fiscal year 2010, which ended June 30.  Indian gaming has become a huge industry in Oklahoma, with tribes generating about $2.9 billion in 2008, according to the 2009-2010 edition of Casino City’s Indian Gaming Industry Report.

Oklahoma surpassed Connecticut in 2008 to become the second leading state in Indian gaming revenues. The $2.9 billion generated here trailed only California, where Indian gaming produced $7.3 billion.  The success of tribal gaming operations and the resulting windfall to the state could not have come at a better time.

During hard times (a bad economy) income drops, the state finds itself missing revenues from many of its traditional funding sources, state officials are now using Indian gaming money to stave off some cuts in state run programs.

Education was to be the primary beneficiary of Indian gaming, some 88 percent of Indian gaming revenue are earmarked for common education funding.  The remaining 12 percent originally was slated for a state higher education scholarship program (which did not happen)  but now goes to the state’s general fund.

Using the current figures, and taking the 12% that is skimmed off the top for the pet projects of the politicians, you realize that this is some serious money.

Now for the player, it is much different.

Okies spend more on gambling than they do on gasoline or alcohol.  Countless thousands of them, young and old, from all walks of life, are “secretly but painfully addicted to the cash cow that is the Indian Casino.”

Players walk up to these slot machines, insert their players card in the slot, and begin losing over and over again, but despite this, Indian gaming continues to not only survive, but grow in our state.

Why do the players continue against such great odds?

Is it for the money, the rush, what is it that compels people to lay down hard earned bucks in tight times, to these machines that are clearly engineered to hold back the highest percentage in their favor?  It seems to be, for me, the item known as the “feature.”  That one in a million chance of lining up all three emblems or symbols on the middle line.  That one elusive thing, that no matter how much you play, you never see.  I suppose that is what makes it so enticing.

The high of getting the feature impels some of us to play for hours, losing hundreds of dollars to win maybe twenty dollars in the end.  Ask any slot player if they have ever lived that scenario and they will shake their head and respond, “over and over, everyday.” 

The feature is to a slot player what caffeine is to coffee.

At least in Missouri they have a daily limit on players, you can only play to a limit of $400 and then your card (a players card that is required to play) will no longer work.  I suppose there are ways around this, if so, I am not familiar with them.

Recently after a huge public outcry on the paltry payouts on slot machines in Oklahoma, the state informed the Indians to “reset the machines for a more reasonable payout geared toward the gamblers” (slowing down the spins on the machines, limiting the bets to $1 or increasing jackpots) or pay a huge multimillion dollar fine.  The Indians in turn said, “Okay, paid the fine, and went back to business as usual.”

Why not?  They have us right where they want us, and all the government in the world aint going to change that one nickel.  Why should they, it is working just fine for them too, and it is all legal.

Unfortunately for the player, that doesn’t make it right.



2 thoughts on “Red Man’s Revenge – Cashing In

  1. “Root N Scoot”?? Sounds like something my dogs do. In all seriousness, though… I moved to NM where there is gambling, from a state where I had to drive 4 hours to get to the river boat – which was only a year or two old. I LOVE Blackjack. But I had to learn real fast to stay out of the casinos. It’s been nearly 2 yrs since I have been in one. And the last time, I only gambled $40, lost it, and left. Much of the money does go towards college education here. But other than that, I have no clue. I hear tales that when the tribal lands wanted to first set up casino’s, the state’s politicians and citizens protested. But the response was, “Your highways go through our lands. We’ll just close those down.” Well, casinos are springing up like mushrooms now. I do not know the legitimacy, but I find it humorous.

    My pet name for convenience stores, Root N Scoot. Editor’s Lic? Yeah right.

    We go every now and then, not all that often, have been mildly successful and we have also suffered losses, it is “a hard way to make a living” and I do not recommend it. It is truly ill advisable to think that you can win your way to prosperity, this isn’t going to happen. I have enough old PowerBall lottery tickets to wallpaper my garage and I have not won a dime.

    But I still play …….

    When the Indians asked to improve access to their Shawnee Casino, Fire Lake, they were told by the state “we do not have the money to do that ($22 million) and you will just have to wait and see.” The Indians told them, “No we don’t want your money, we just want permission, and they built it themselves.” Don Laughlin did the very same thing with a bridge across the Colorado River in Laughlin Nevada when dealing with Arizona.

    Money talks and the rest of it walks … rule of life. They are legit in Oklahoma and they are springing up everywhere.

    Thanks for your comment.



  2. I understand your concern for the player at Indian casinos, but if the odds are so skewed against the player, they are free not to gamble there. Much like people who complain about high credit card interest rates, they can avoid them altogether by simply stopping their usage. Both are free choices made by adults. While I would like to see a bigger payout percentage at the casinos I can not fault the tribes for making all the money they can. After all, at one time ALL the land and resources of this country belonged to them and were stolen by white invaders. So, a little payback is in order as I see it. And unlike the white invaders did to the Indians, the Indians only take from those who willingly set themselves up for it.


    At the entrance to all Indian casino’s you will find a sign denoting them as sovereign nations. Which is fine with me, my main complaint is #1: Paying taxes on the winnings on “Indian land” and of course, not being allowed by the IRS to deduct losses without a “federal gambling stamp” as I understand it, which is just about totally unobtainable by most standards.

    And #2: Skimming off the proceeds and putting them in the general fund (state slush fund) instead of going where they were intended (education).

    But they do it with highway taxes and the bridge funds too. It is just part of the corrupt political process known as Oklahoma Government.

    Believe it or not, I subscribe to the very same idea. My neighbor will complain to me about payouts, losing, where the money is going. When I hear enough, I smile and tell him …. “You don’t have to play. No one is forcing you to go in there and give it away.” But he always goes back for more.

    Thanks for commenting James.



Comments are closed.