The Seminole Tribe and the Origins of Indian Gaming

9 Florida International University Law Review 255 (2014)

22 Pages Posted: 22 Dec 2013 Last revised: 25 Jan 2016

Date Written: December 20, 2013


The Seminole Tribe of Florida has played perhaps the most important role in the origins and development of Indian gaming in the United States of any single tribe. The tribe opened the first tribally owned high stakes bingo hall in 1979. The tribe in 1981 was involved in one of the earliest lower court decisions forming the basis of the legal theory excluding most states from the regulation of high stakes bingo, a theory that Congress largely codified in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) years later. The tribe was a party to the Supreme Court decision in 1996 that radically altered the bargaining power between tribes and states over the negotiation and regulation of casino-style gaming under IGRA. And more recently, the tribe has been a leading participant in negotiations and litigation over the regulatory landscape of Indian gaming after the 1996 decision. The Tribe is one of the most successful Indian gaming tribes in the nation.

This paper traces that history, but also offers thoughts on how the culture and traditional governance structures of the Seminole Tribe played a part in its leadership role in the arena of Indian gaming.

Keywords: Seminole Tribe of Florida, Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Florida, Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, Indian gaming, Indian bingo, tribal governance, tribal custom and tradition

Suggested Citation

Fletcher, Matthew L. M., The Seminole Tribe and the Origins of Indian Gaming (December 20, 2013). 9 Florida International University Law Review 255 (2014), Available at SSRN:

Matthew L. M. Fletcher (Contact Author)

University of Michigan Law School ( email )

500 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

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