US tribal casinos hold lessons for Japan

San Manuel Casino
San Manuel Casino

Japanese regulators should not fail to study the experience of tribal casinos in the United States, asserted Deron Marquez, former chairman of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, in a recent interview with Asia Gaming Brief.

Asked what his core message to the Japanese government would be, he stated, “One of the things you cannot recapture if you don’t do it right from the beginning is integrity. If you fail to have strong regulations from the top down… you’ll lose everything.”

His own tribe’s San Manuel Casino is one of the largest gaming operations in Southern California, and Marquez was chairman during a crucial six-year period when these operations were being launched.

Regulators should exercise a strong hand from the outset, he advises, noting that, “tribal gaming is regulated by three different governments. It is probably, next to banking, one of the most highly regulated operations in the United States.” From his vantage point, robust regulation is a key to success in the gaming industry.

Marquez also notes that casino revenues can have a positive, transformative impact on the local community. He credits the infrastructure improvements funded by casino revenues for having saved the tribe from massive destruction in a devastating wildfire that swept the region in 2003.