Native American Gaming Law

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The Indian gaming and hospitality industry continues to expand into exciting new disciplines as customers return to casinos post-COVID and new technology to simplify user experiences is being implemented. At the same time, online gaming is evolving, and more states have become receptive to sports betting.

This growth brings new opportunities for gaming and economic development on tribal lands, along with a variety of legal and regulatory challenges unique to Indian gaming operations. With extensive experience and knowledge of Native American gaming law, tribal rights, and the many economic and cultural issues impacting Indigenous peoples, Dickinson Wright represents clients on Indian gaming law issues throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Our Team

Our Indian Gaming Law practice includes transactional lawyers, litigators, compliance committee advisors, lobbyists, engineers, and other professionals with decades of experience in the gaming and hospitality industry. Together, these attorneys offer an unmatched depth and breadth of experience into the issues that our clients face.

Members of our team have drafted and passed key gaming law legislation on behalf of gaming industry clients, including legislation streamlining gaming equipment testing and expanding the footprint of gaming enterprise districts. And, our firm is ranked in Chambers USA® as a leading law firm in numerous practice areas, including “Gaming Law,” which reflects the legal talent of our team. We are also regularly listed in the top bands for Gaming & Licensing in Chambers Canada® and Chambers Global®.

Our Services

Our Indian gaming law attorneys represent tribal casinos, gaming regulatory agencies, and gaming vendors and suppliers, assisting with all phases of tribal gaming, including:

Indian Casino Development & Operations

• Negotiating leases for commercial developments on Indian reservations.
• Negotiating tribal/state Indian gaming compacts and tribal/municipality casino development agreements.
• Assisting commercial casino developers with obtaining gaming licenses and obtaining approval of state constitutional amendments and gaming legislation.


The recent focus on social experience at casino resorts has resulted in an increased interest in esports, which had previously been outside of the gaming sector. Today, gaming authorities are being asked to examine possible wagering opportunities for these types of events, increasing the need for advocacy in assuring that regulations protect both the casinos and the customers. Our lawyers have experience in providing a 50-state review and analysis of esports and social gaming offerings. Depending on the jurisdiction, contests and other promotions that may not appear to be gaming activities could actually contain wagering elements that violate state or federal laws. We can advise on the risks, help you understand the regulations, and provide guidance in this expanding area of gaming law.

Regulatory Compliance

Our Indian gaming clients rely on us to advocate and collaborate on their behalf with state and federal agencies. We provide counsel regarding anti-money laundering (AML), gaming devices, testing and metering systems, wagering systems, liquor licenses, and other industry-specific rules.

• Assisting with suitability applications for licensing and permitting as well as qualification requirements.
• Counseling clients regarding the interpretation and application of federal, state, tribal, and provincial gaming statutes and regulations.
• Representing clients in regulatory hearings and matters before the National Indian Gaming Commission and other federal, state, and provincial regulatory bodies.
• Helping gaming equipment manufacturers comply with the complex licensing and jurisdiction-specific regulations of their products, games, and technologies.
• Assisting with patent, trademark, and copyright protection issues.

Tribal Economic Development

We actively represent clients in tribal development transactions related to gaming, such as energy development, water resource development, and other economic development opportunities. Our work includes:

• Negotiating and documenting tribal casino financing.
• Securing federal and state approvals.
• Advocating for tribal interests and protecting tribal sovereignty.
• Developing, procuring, and protecting energy resources.
• Acquiring and managing water resources and defending Indian Water Rights.
• Negotiating and establishing agreements with developers and vendors.
• Counseling on state and federal taxation issues unique to Indian tribes, individuals, and lands.

Litigation & Dispute Resolution

When disagreements between players in the gaming industry cannot be resolved amicably, litigation becomes a reality. Our team of accomplished and skilled litigators has proven to be the best in their fields. From simple disputes to complex multidistrict, multi-party cases, our lawyers strive for the best and most strategic outcome, always with the client’s resources in mind.

We frequently appear before legislative bodies on behalf of our gaming clients and work closely with the legislative and executive branches to secure necessary approvals and assure regulatory compliance. We also defend our clients in administrative proceedings, tribal, state, and federal court proceedings in gaming patron, labor, intellectual property, and environmental disputes.

Related Practice Areas

We work closely with other practice areas within the firm to ensure that we address and mitigate every potential point of concern that may emerge, including:

Representative Matters

• Negotiated tribal/state Indian gaming compacts and tribal/municipality casino development agreements, represented tribal interests nationwide, and guided developers and vendors in the intricacies of tribal sovereign nation contracting.

• Successfully defended tribal gaming enterprise in tribal court in a lawsuit brought by former casino executives.

• Secured federal and state approvals required for Indian gaming, including land-to-trust applications, gaming determinations, tribal ordinance drafting, compact negotiation, negotiation with city and county governments, and National Indian Gaming Commission approval of financing, development and management agreements.

• Secured gaming licenses for vendors and suppliers to tribal casinos.

• Advised tribes on financing for Tribal casinos, including negotiation, providing opinion letters, and drafting Tribal ordinances and resolutions required to obtain financing.

• Provided guidance to tribes, developers, and manufacturers in drafting and enforcing contracts in Indian Country.

• Drafted legislative amendments and counseled First Nations regarding amendments to gaming legislation enacted by the government of Ontario.

• Represented applicants before the Nevada State Contractor’s Board and appeared before the various planning and zoning boards which make regional infrastructure services evaluations and issue variances and use permits for high-impact projects and projects of regional significance.

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