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Donald Craig Mitchell

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ISBN 13: 978-1-4683-0993-5
Trim Size: 6" x 9"
Overlook Press

Product Description

The never-before-told story of Indian Casinos in America

In 2015, 239 Indian tribes operated 478 casinos, high-stakes bingo halls, and other gambling facilities on Indian reservations in 28 states that collectively earned $28.5 billion in gross gaming revenue. How did Indian gambling become such a lucrative and commonplace fixture of the American landscape? In Wampum: How Indian Tribes, the Mafia, and an Inattentive Congress Invented Indian Gaming and Created a $28 Billion Gambling Empire, Donald Craig Mitchell reveals the never-before-told story.

In 1979, the Mafia opened the nation's first high-stakes Indian bingo hall on the Seminole reservation in Florida. Nine years later, Indian tribes were operating bingo halls on reservations in 23 states. Congress enacted the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act to subject gambling on reservations to regulation by the federal government and the states in which the reservations were located. But, while members of Congress who voted for the bill didn't intend for it to do so, the act facilitated the transformation of Indian bingo halls into what they are today―Las Vegas-style casinos whose gaming floors contain more than 352,000 video slot and other gaming machines.

On Capitol Hill, Donald Craig Mitchell is a recognized expert on Indian law and history, and the only researcher who had early access to the records of the committees whose members and staff wrote the bills that became the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. In Wampum, he offers readers the first comprehensive look at the forces in Congress and inside the Bureau of Indian Affairs that have created the Indian gaming industry.

“This engaging and disturbing look at how big money changes everything reads like Game of Thrones in a business suit . . . an excellent case study of how the best efforts of committed civil servants and elected officials can be undone when large sums of money are at stake. Wampum shows how an effective use of the law, gaps in the law, manipulation of the legislative process, political influence, plus some strong-arming by mafia-types, built an entire industry that is pretty much untouchable in terms of regulations and taxation by federal authorities.”
The Washington Independent Review of Books

Wampum is a fascinating look at the origins of Indian gaming in the U.S.A.”
—Senator Harry Reid

Donald Craig Mitchell is an attorney and nationally recognized expert on Indian law and history. The author of Sold American: The Story of Alaska Natives and Their Land and Take My Land Take My Life: The Story of Congress’s Historic Settlement of Alaska Native Land Claims, he lives in Anchorage, Alaska.

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