November 6 - December 31, 2023

Course Description

In just over three decades, "Indian gaming" has become a $34.6 billion industry with nearly 500 casinos operated by over 240 American Indian tribes in 29 states. Tribal casinos are transforming reservation quality of life and tribal government administration. Indian gaming is creating new legal, political, and socioeconomic opportunities and challenges for tribal and non-tribal governments, policymakers, and legal practitioners throughout the U.S. Gaming industry executives at the C-Suite level and unit managers in such areas as audit, compliance, customer service, hospitality or food and beverage, human resources, information systems, licensing, marketing, and other areas of retail or gaming operations also are looking to understand what Indian gaming is and how it aligns with, and differs from, commercial casino operations and management.

What is tribal gaming? How did it become the most prominent and significant economic development strategy for American Indian tribes today? How does it fit within the overall legalized gaming industry in terms of law, public policy, and politics? And what are the key differences between commercial and tribal gaming operations?

This team-taught course introduces the substantive frameworks governing Indian gaming and information that will help you get to the next level, whether you are working in or interfacing with the tribal gaming industry.

The course will cover statutes, regulations, and case law pertaining to Indian gaming issues, with particular focus on the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 (IGRA) and its interpretation. Participants will learn about Indian gaming's origins and policy goals, how tribal gaming is regulated, and the tribal-state compacting process required for casino-style gaming.


  • Kathryn Rand is the Floyd B. Sperry Professor of Law and Co-director of the Institute for the Study of Tribal Gaming Law and Policy at the University of North Dakota. She served as Dean of the UND School of Law from 2009-2018, the first woman to hold this position. Rand is widely recognized among the nation’s leading experts on Indian gaming, federal Indian law, and tribal-state-federal intergovernmental relations.
  • Steve Light is a professor of Political Science & Public Administration at the University of North Dakota, where he teaches American government, executive leadership strategy, public human resource management, American Indian politics & public affairs, ad the senior capstone. Steve co-directs the Institute for the Study of Tribal Gaming Law & Policy and is widely regarded as a leading expert on tribal gaming enterprises and economic development.

Course Outcomes

  • Identify the basic features of the Indian gaming industry, including its origins, size, scope, and influence.
  • Distinguish key similarities and differences between Indian gaming and commercial gaming.
  • Describe the influence of tribal sovereignty and federal Indian law and policy on the development of Indian gaming law and policy.
  • Articulate key definitions, provisions, and requirements of the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 (IGRA).
  • Understand how Indian gaming is regulated under IGRA, including relevant classes of gaming, the basic legal requirements for each class of gaming, and the resultant authority of tribal, state, and federal officials and agencies.
  • Understand the tribal-state compact requirement for Class III gaming, including core elements and requirements, the impacts of the Seminole Tribe decision on compact negotiations, and the federal approval process.
  • Be aware of common provisions included or disallowed in Class III tribal-state compacts, including authorized games, tribal and state regulatory authority, taxes or fees, and revenue sharing.