The term ‘Gambling’ is synonymous to ‘Gaming’. Gaming or Gambling is deeply rooted in the life of Native Americans. If we probe into the history of life of Native Americans and gambling, we find that the kind of gambling that used to be there was strikingly different from the gambling in today’s era. The literal meaning of the term ‘gambling’ did not apply in those days. The games were less of the play in which someone wins and the other loses but were more of the auspicious ceremonies that were a part of every Native American’s life.
The Native Americans used to play games in an amicable fashion to have a joyful pastime. They were not so much concerned in framing the winning strategies but their chief purpose was to enjoy. Besides amusement Native Americans had some superstitions attached to their games too. For instance they were of the opinion that the force or power that guides and determines the result if their game is the force that regulates the entire cosmos. This force is responsible for the events in the life of all living beings as well as for the course of the Mother Nature. Thus it was sort of mandatory for them to play. It was also thought that not playing the games might offend the guiding force.
But this simplicity of the tradition was mutilated and reformed by the Europeans. The Europeans enclosed these austere games under the ambit of ‘gambling’ where the men who play are not participants in any ceremony but are ‘gamblers’. These gamblers put something at stake to get something more in return. Thus for the Europeans these games had just one meaning and interpretation- gamble i.e. to win or to lose.
Time has changed and so the people, the styles and reasons to play games, the awareness of these games…all have taken a new dimension. The games that used to be modes of entertainment now have a special and significant contribution to their economy. The tribal government of California and some tribes there has signed or has agreed to certain compacts. These compacts are meant to provide sharing of money in the form of revenue with the other Indian and non-gaming tribes. The revenues so collected by the tribal government are invested in the general welfare of the tribal people like building houses for them, education, health and hygiene, water and food facilities etc. The IGRA or Indian Gaming Regulation Act plays an important role in this area. For it is meant to monitor the manner in which the revenues obtained from the gaming industry’s profits, are spent by the tribal governments. The gaming industry is acknowledged as the most flourishing Indian economic enterprise available to the Native Americans. The consequences trickle down further as nearly 2.7 billion dollar proceeds were utilized in paying federal taxes, 1.8 million is for the state income taxes and 2.8 billion is handed over to social security. Not just this but the revenue has also helped tremendously in creating new jobs and so settling employment for the unemployed.
Thus the surrounding communities and their small economies are also largely benefited by this industry.
However, there always remains a threat of the Native American people especially youngsters falling in the trap of several abuses like drug abuse, alcohol and the like.
To alleviate this menace the tribal governments and also the media have arranged several programs that educate the Native as well as the non-Native Americans of the perils of gambling addiction.
The gaming is profoundly embedded in the life of Native Americans. Its maintenance and continuance helps the younger generations in knowing the tastes and richness of the older ones. The gaming is so well nurtured and kindled by the Native Americans like a mother cares and encourages her child throughout her life.