Tribal-State Compact Agreement


Tribal state pacts are needed to allow Class III play on Indian lands and allow states, through good faith negotiations, to place their legitimate interests in effective regulation of these games. The compact method cannot be used to extend state jurisdiction to areas that are not reasonably necessary for effective regulation of Class III games, or as a source of general revenue from the state fund. Federal law requires the tribe to be the main beneficiary of its gambling activity. The Minnesota tribes were the first in the nation to negotiate and sign game compacts with a state government. Tribes and the state have agreed to limit casinos to random video games (slots) and blackjack. In addition, both sides agreed that the pacts should be sustainable. Minnesota negotiated 22 tribal pacts with 11 Indian tribes, which led to the creation of 18 casinos in the state. The Class III games that are allowed among these compacts are blackjack and random video games. The compacts provide for the inspection and approval of the machines by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, the license of casino employees, machine distribution percentages and the regulation of blackjack gambling. Under the original IGRA laws, Congress has attempted to maintain tribal sovereignty. The law created a mechanism to limit the state`s ability to exploit tribes by allowing tribes to sue states that were not in “good faith.” If the Federal Court of Justice finds that states are not in good faith, it could require a pact to be reached within 60 days. If those days were over, the Minister of the Interior would be responsible for drawing up a pact, which would most likely be a disadvantage for the states. This capability, combined with the requirement that the Minister of the Interior authorize all the compacts of the game that have worked to ensure federal oversight of all state regulations – which should have mitigated the blow to sovereignty by the tribal state pacts.

[13] However, in 1991, Seminole Tribe v. Florida disrupted the tribal-state balance that Congress had planned under IGRA. [14] This case ultimately denied the tribes the right to sue states on the basis of the Eleventh Amendment (which grants sovereign immunity to states). In addition, the case decided that Congress had exceeded its authority in the development of IGRA. Seminole Tribe therefore acted to end the limited protection of Congress for tribes and eliminate all mechanisms for enforcing the “good faith” clause. Experts found that in the development of IGRA, Congress tried to protect the tribes, but when the decision was passed in this case, the Court ignored this intention and allowed the balance of the transfer of power in favour of the states. [15] Section 3A of the Act contains specific instructions for the process of developing a tribal state pact.

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