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Indian Tribes Look to Capitalize on Internet Gaming in U.S.

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Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey are currently the only U.S. states to legalize online gambling in one form or another. But other states have shown interest in the market, and Indian tribes don't want to be left behind.

According to a recent report by Stateline, American Indian tribes have 460 gaming facilities in 28 states, none of which have a piece of online gambling. Stateline reporter Pamela M. Prah notes that some of the 240 Indian tribes in the U.S. are eager for a piece, many of which are located in California, which represents the largest and most compelling potential market for intrastate online poker.

"By the end of the year, an American Indian tribe in rural California, the Alturas Indian Rancheria Tribe, expects to launch the country's first tribal online gambling effort," Prah writes. "The Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes in Oklahoma are pressing forward with a site that will target gamblers from outside the United States. And the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians in the Midwest is actively preparing for the possibility that more states or the federal government will sanction online gambling sometime soon."

The two tribes in Oklahoma are attempting to an online gambling operation under an unusual agreement reach with the state this year. Online gambling isn't allowed in Oklahoma, but the Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes have been authorized to launch a real-money online gambling site that targets customers outside of the U.S. was launched as a free-play site by the tribes earlier this year with hopes of transforming it into an RMG operation that offers poker, blackjack, bingo, and pull tabs. The tribe is still awaiting approval from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to get the project in motion.

In Wisconsin, an alliance between tribes could see Internet gambling open up in "Indian Country." In October, the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians became the first tribe to officially join the nationwide Tribal Internet Gaming Alliance. If three more tribes join, the alliance can form a commission to regulate and license online gaming. According to alliance council member Jeffrey Nelson, more than 50 tribes in 18 states have expressed interest in joining.

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