July 1, 2002
Wiener Center for Social Policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government
Tribal gaming in Oklahoma is a growing industry with a range of positive social and economic impacts. This report ons delve more deeply into tribal gaming policy and its effect on both the state of Oklahoma and Indian nations in Oklahoma. Section II answers the question: Why tribal government gaming? Section II shows why modern Indian self-determination policy has been successful and why tribal gaming policy is a wholly consistent extension of it. Section III examines the economic impact of tribal gaming on the state of Oklahoma. Section III shows how gaming generally, and tribal gaming in Oklahoma in particular, can generate net new growth in three ways. Section IV turns to the question of gaming's impact on Indian nations in Oklahoma. Section IV documents what tribes have done to diversify their economies, educate their people, and otherwise invest gaming revenues in the vitality of their communities. As this report will illustrate, such investments spill over to the local non-Indian communities in positive ways. Many opponents of gaming argue that the benefits of gaming come at too high a price -- that gaming brings social costs in the form of problem gambling behavior. Substantial scientific research exists on the national and international scale and scope of problem gambling that can be used as a starting point for policy analysis in Oklahoma. Section V reviews that work.