In 1987, the Supreme Court ruled in California vs. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians that tribal governments had the rights to establish gaming operations independent of state regulation. The very next year, Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which worked towards developing a manageable framework for Indian Gaming.
While authority over Class II gaming was left to the tribes, Class III gaming required a compact between the tribe and the state. In Oklahoma, the Indian tribes regulate both Class II and Class III, although they are still subject to the provisions set out in the IGRA.
So what’s the difference between Class II and Class III? Class II games are generally defined as bingo, lotto, pull tab, and punch board games. Class III includes electronic bingo games, non-house banked card games, and electronic amusement games.
This legal decision was very important and had an immediate impact on the Indian tribes throughout the Unites States. One of the states where it made the biggest impact was in Oklahoma. From Bristow to Stringtown, Lone Grove to Seminole, tribal leaders began developing strategies to make use of this ruling for the betterment of their people.
Under this federal law, gambling can only be conducted on “Indian Land.” According to federal law, “Indian Land” is defined as:
a. Land which is a part of a federally-recognized Indian reservation, or
b. Not located on a reservation, but held in trust by the federal government for an Indian tribe.