A few years ago, this page urged Indian tribes to stop inviting gamblers to set up shop on their reservations across the country.
We did so even though the tribes often view gambling as a means of attracting outside visitors so as to overcome poverty and unemployment and provide economic independence from the federal government.Instead, we feared that the new revenue would be accompanied by the crime and corruption that usually come with gambling.
Those fears now prove to have been well taken.
This week a hooded witnesses, speaking through a voice distorter from behind a barricade, told a Senate panel in Washington, D.C., that organized crime is deeply involved in Indian bingo games.
One tribe alone, according to this former Mafia member, lost $600,000 to $700,000 as a result of numerous scams, including rigged games, fixed contests and inflated prices of supplies.
Unless federal oversight is increased, he warned, the influence of organized crime will spread rapidly on Indian lands and in 10 years "it will be totally out of hand."
This warning can hardly come as a surprise in view of the well-known harm that legalized gambling does wherever it shows up. It creates new bettors who eventually turn to illegal bookmakers to avoid taxes. By feeding illegal gambling operations, it helps corrupt law enforcement and subsidizes organized crime. It attracts other costly crime like prostitution and loan sharking.
Of all Americans, Indians can afford gambling the least because they are the poorest. Nor do reservations need to add gambling's crime and corruption to the many social problems they already have.
The lesson should be clear: What's needed is not just increased federal supervision of gambling on the Indian reservations. Better yet, legalized gambling should be kept off the reservations all together.