explores the dimensions of Indian gaming law, benefits, issues
Until recently, there were few resources for research and information
about the law and public policy governing tribal casinos.
Then, in 2002, the UND School of Law announced a new component
of the Northern Plains Indian Law Center: the Institute for the
Study of Tribal Gaming Law and Policy, which provides legal and
policy assistance related to tribal gaming, assists tribes in
pursuing reservation economic development and building strong
tribal governments, and contributes to the research and literature
on tribal gaming.
Since the passage of the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act
in 1988, "Indian gaming" — casinos owned and operated
by tribal governments on tribal lands — has grown to a nearly
$13 billion industry nationally.
Each of the five tribes in North Dakota has a casino. Tribal
gaming has become one of the state's top economic engines, contributing
approximately $125 million to its economy annually. Tribal casinos
have created more than 2,000 jobs statewide, and gaming revenue
has helped tribes improve reservation living conditions by providing
public services and constructing housing, schools, and community
North Dakota and tribes throughout the Midwest are the Institute's
primary focus, as the popular media and policymakers tend to focus
on gaming tribes on the East and West Coasts.
The Institute's co-directors are:
- Associate Professor of Law Kathryn Rand. With a B.A. in anthropology
from UND and a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School,
she previously served as a federal prosecutor in Wisconsin and
served as tribal liaison to the Menominee Nation.
- Assistant Professor of Political Science Steven Light. Holding
a B.A. in political science from Yale University and a Ph.D.
in political science from Northwestern University, he taught
previously at Northwestern and Marquette.
Since first collaborating seven years ago, Light and Rand have
presented their findings at national and international conferences
and have published a half-dozen articles in nationally recognized
journals. Their research focuses on the intersection of law and
public policy concerning Indian gaming, and specifically the roles
of tribal sovereignty and tribal government. One theme of their
findings is that both tribal and state governments can benefit
from Indian gaming.
Consistent with the University's focus on Native communities
and issues, particularly those in North Dakota, UND has supported
and encouraged their work. Students, too, have shown interest
in the Institute. Rand teaches a class on Indian gaming law, while
Light incorporates tribal gaming issues into his courses, and
both work with law and public administration graduate students
in researching tribal gaming.
Both take pride in the fact that theirs is the only academic
institute of its kind in the country that ties together the law,
public policy, and government administration surrounding Indian
gaming. While Harvard's Kennedy School of Government also studies
tribal gaming, it focuses more broadly on tribal economic development.
The Institute's reputation is growing. Rand and Light regularly
receive calls from attorneys, tribal governments, policymakers,
and news media. While continuing to publish their research, they
hope to expand the scope of their work and seek external funding
to further the Institute's mission.