I call this hearing of the Committee on Indian Affairs to order. Aloha, and welcome to the Committee's oversight hearing on the Regulation of Tribal Gaming: From Brick and Mortar to the Internet.
Today we are here to discuss the regulation of tribal gaming. Tribal gaming is now a twenty-seven billion dollar industry. In total, tribal gaming makes up approximately forty percent of the commercial gaming industry in the United States. Gaming, like many industries, does not remain stagnant. That is why today, we will discuss the current regulatory structure of Indian gaming under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, as well as examine regulation of online gaming should federal legislation be enacted.
Gaming has been the single most effective form of economic development for Indian Country. Revenues from gaming provide essential services to tribal members, including education, healthcare, and housing. Indian gaming also provides jobs to members of the surrounding communities. In many counties across the nation tribes are the largest employer, with nearly seventy-five percent of those jobs going to non-Indians.
With these types of economic tools, comes great responsibility. Tribes are the first-line regulators for tribal gaming. We in Congress - and especially on this Committee -- also have a responsibility to ensure that tribal views and priorities are part of any legislation that could impact tribal gaming.
That is why I have developed a draft online gaming bill - the Tribal Online Gaming Act of 2012. This bill is intended to further the dialogue with tribes, my colleagues here in the Senate, and other affected stakeholders. I encourage all of you to review the bill and provide any comments.
In any expansion of gaming, we must make sure that the unique circumstances surrounding tribal sovereignty are maintained in any legislation. And, we must also enable tribes to participate fully should any legislation be considered so tribes are on equal footing with their counterparts in the commercial gaming industry.
As always, it is our job on the Committee to make sure tribes achieve parity in any federal legislation and to bring your voice to Congress. So, I urge all of you to review the Tribal Online Gaming Act discussion draft and provide comments so that we can make sure the tribal voice is heard.
We will continue the dialogue on this issue, and I encourage all of you to continue your work with the Committee. As Chairman, it is my goal to ensure that we hear from all who want to contribute to the discussion.
Mahalo - thank you. This hearing is adjourned.