Not between a rock and a hard place- a Hard Rock success story

When is Indian gaming Indian gaming and when it is something else?  Of course, in a technical sense Indian gaming is only Indian gaming when an Indian tribe operates a gaming operation under the guidelines and within the constraints of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), its subsequent regulations and a tribal-state compact that meets those guidelines and has been approved by the National Indian Gaming Commission.

However, beyond those restrictions there is more to Indian gaming than that – there are the instances when the gaming revenues were used by the tribes to invest beyond the borders of their reservation and their home state and even beyond the gaming industry.  For example tribes in Florida and Connecticut have branched out into conventional gaming in other states.  Those tribes operate gaming operations solely under the laws and regulations of the states where the casinos are located and totally without regard for federal regulations or restrictions; in those states they are not operating as a sovereign nation, but rather as a standard gaming licensee.

Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun and Hard Rock are Indian brand names and they are major players in many of the newer jurisdictions and in the case of Hard Rock, they are also international operators of hotels without casinos.  All three can generally be found making a bid for a license in new jurisdictions – such as Pennsylvania, Ohio and Massachusetts.  Hard Rock in particular seems to be everywhere at the moment; any new jurisdiction can expect someone to form a partnership with Hard Rock and bid for a casino license.  Ohio, Massachusetts and Iowa are the most recent of jurisdictions with a Hard Rock casino or Hard Rock proposal; in all there are 17 Hard Rock casinos.   And just to balance the scales, an Indian tribe in New Mexico is terminating its million-dollar a year franchise deal; the tribe did not feel it was getting its money’s worth from the iconic name.  Hard Rock is owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida; The Seminoles did not invent the Hard Rock brand, they bought Hard Rock International in 2007 from Rank.

Hard Rock is proof that IGRA worked – one of the major objectives of the act was financial independence for individual Indian tribes.  It worked for some tribes, but not all tribes; some tribes are no better off than they were in 1988; either their reservations are too remote, they are in states with small populations, their casinos are unsuccessful for other business reasons or the tribes choose to give the casino profits to individual tribal members instead of investing it.  For those tribes and for their members they are still between the proverbial rock and a hard place – not so the Seminoles.

The Seminole Tribe is one those tribes with favorable locations and visionary leadership; they used Indian gaming revenues and experience to gain financial independence.  They are one of the tribes for which Indian gaming has led to a level of financial independence far beyond what the members of Congress in 1988 could have imagined.  It is a pleasant surprise when an act of Congress actually succeeds. There are still, of course, opponents of Indian gaming; those that claim IGRA is unconstitutional by undermining the rights of the states, blatantly unfair and that the act discriminates against non-Indian businesses.  But I think even among those critics, the Hard Rock story is a story of the success of IGRA.   A Hard Rock casino in Massachusetts or Iowa would not be Indian gaming in the traditional sense, but it certainly is Indian gaming.

A blighted plot of industrial land just off the Mystic River in Everett could become a gleaming waterfront casino as an international gaming giant has begun talks with the city that could yield a new, deep-pocketed player to challenge Suffolk Downs, officials told the Herald.  Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria said he has had preliminary talks with representatives of Hard Rock International, as well as Chicago casino titans Rush Street Gaming, about a 40-acre waterfront site bordered by Route 99 and the Mystic River that formerly housed Monsanto Chemical Co. Hard Rock officials have met with the site owner, listed as FBT Everett realty, and spoken to the city about a possible casino resort, including a glass tower and new marina, the mayor said. “I’m excited to see what plans they put forward,” DeMaria said. Dave Wedge, Boston Herald, 11-9-12

 One of the proposals for a new casino in Sioux City is a Hard Rock Casino. It’s a familiar name. But one New Mexico Casino decided to drop the brand this week…Sioux City Entertainment, the company hoping to put a Hard Rock Casino in downtown Sioux City, is backing the Hard Rock brand. It’s teamed up with the current Woodbury County gaming license holder, Missouri River Historical Development, to submit a proposal to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission…Bill Warner, Sioux City Entertainment said, “The hard rock brand is a fantastic brand. It’s a growing brand. There are 17 resorts from either hotels or casinos around the world. There’s seven more being built right now.”…Sioux City Entertainment is one of three groups trying to land the new gaming license. Penn National and Ho Chunk Inc. have also submitted proposals. Kristie VerMulm, KTIV, 11-9-12



2 Responses to “Not between a rock and a hard place- a Hard Rock success story”

  1. 1 rexdstock1 November 9, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    Nicely written.  There are many things enacted by Congress that turn out well.  We have to stop hating government.  We’ve proven that we are not capable of being reasonable, considerate citizens without some form of government.  8 years from now many of the angry white people who are holding us all hostage will be gone.  I figured out the other day that the only time I have ever hated the government is when the Republicans have been in charge.  I’m too young for Ike, but I think I would have liked Ike too.  


  2. 2 Ken Adams November 9, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    I liked Ike, I wore an I Like Ike button – but then I was in the sixth grade; however much I may have disliked some policy, I have never hated the government. I don’t like Putin, but I don’t hate him, nor Stalin before him – although I might with the right timing have gone into battle against his forces. Hell, I don’t hate Ahmadinejad, nor his boss; I don’t believe in their principles, but I don’t hate them. We are fortunate, on a regular basis we get to go through the process over again and re-choose our leaders and representative – how can I hate a person that the majority of my peers have chosen without hating my peers. Doesn’t work for me.

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