Indian gambling is authorized by the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). This law generally allows Indian tribes in any state to conduct the types of gambling that the state allows on Indian land. The IGRA divides all gambling on Indian land into one of three classes:
- Class I gambling includes traditional Indian ceremonial and social games controlled exclusively by the tribes.
- Class II gambling consists of bingo, pull-tabs, and non-banking card games (games where players play against each other rather than against the house). Class II gambling is governed by a tribal ordinance that must meet federal guidelines and be approved by the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC).
- Class III gambling consists of common casino games such as video games of chance (slot machines and video poker) roulette, craps, baccarat, and banking card games such as blackjack. Class III gambling is conducted under a compact that each tribe negotiates with the government of the state in which it is located.
Minnesota tribes were the first in the nation to negotiate and sign gaming compacts with a state government. Both the tribes and the state agreed to limit casinos to video games of chance (slots) and blackjack. Additionally, both parties agreed that the compacts should be effective in perpetuity.
Minnesota has negotiated 22 tribal-state compacts with 11 Indian tribes, resulting in the establishment of 18 casinos in the state. The class III games permitted under these compacts are blackjack and video games of chance.
The compacts provide for inspection and approval of machines by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, licensing of casino employees, machine payout percentages, and regulation of the play of blackjack.