After last week announcing that it had become a member of the American Sports Betting Coalition, the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) has now released a statement designed to clarify why it enrolled in a group that is fighting to bring an end to the United States’ nationwide prohibition on sportsbetting.

Established in June by the American Gaming Association trade group, the American Sports Betting Coalition is advocating for a repeal of the 25-year-old Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which forbids all sports wagering except in venues located in the states of Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon. The alliance also includes the likes of Boyd Gaming Corporation, Rush Street Gaming and Penn National Gaming Incorporated along with organizations of attorneys general and police, policymakers and others and is hoping its efforts will help to curb an illegal market that is currently conservatively estimated to be worth about $150 billion.

The most recent NIGA statement written by Chairman Ernie Stevens explains that the group’s intent in joining the American Sports Betting Coalition was to “enhance Indian Country’s seat at the table on this important issue” and that it has “not taken a position on the issue of sportsbetting legalization”.

“Various media organizations mischaracterized NIGA’s participation in the coalition as supporting the legalization of sportsbetting,” read the statement. “I want to clarify that the NIGA board has not taken a position on the issue of sportsbetting legalization. We realize that legalizing any new form of gaming, at any level of government, impacts our tribal gaming industry’s economic interests.”

The statement details that NIGA is unable to take an official position on the nationwide legalization of sportsbetting without “input from all of our member tribes” as these types of issues “raise provincial concerns unique to each and every tribal government engaged in gaming”.

“One of the key tenets of NIGA’s decision-making under my Chairmanship is an emphasis on consensus building, if not complete unity, on gaming issues,” read the statement. “Despite media mischaracterizations, I was clear in my statement on NIGA’s joining the sportsbetting coalition.”

The NIGA statement subsequently goes on to site a previous declaration from the group that it had joined the American Sports Betting Coalition in order to ensure that “tribal interests are protected” with a particular emphasis on the “avoidance of negative impacts on existing tribal-state compacts and exclusivity clauses”. The earlier announcement additionally read that tribal governments should be provided with “an equal opportunity to participate in and regulate” any industry that results from the legalization of any “new form of gambling” in the United States.

Stevens ended the statement by clarifying that NIGA’s board is due to discuss the “sportsbetting issue” at next month’s Mid-Year Conference and Expo where it hopes to receive input from “our regional board representatives”.

“Further, there will be several panel discussions and tribal leader discussions during the mid-year membership meeting and conference,” ends the statement.

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