Plain Talk: ND Indian Affairs Commissioner Says Tribes Feel a Little Duped by Legislature’s Expansion of Gambling

Scott Davis, executive director of the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission, sits July 18 outside the North Dakota Capitol in Bismarck. Meagan Deanne / The Forum

“I don’t want to use the word ‘duped,'” North Dakota Indian Affairs Commissioner Scott Davis told me during this episode of Plain Talk.

But then he went ahead and used it anyway.

We were discussing the Legislature’s expansion of charitable gaming to include electronic pull-tab machines which essentially function like slot machines. Per a recent article by reporter Natasha Rausch, that change has led to a 52% increase in gaming revenue in North Dakota in the two years since the Legislature acted.

Davis says that increase has come at the expense of tribal casinos — he estimates those operations have seen a 30 to 45% loss in revenues — despite assurances when this issue was negotiated at the legislature that the impact would be minimal.

He’d like to see the state and tribes come together on some compromises, perhaps including a cap on the number of e-tab machines per location and more regulation on their operation.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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