The key point is that Indians are, once again, looking down the barrel of some especially adverse and arbitrary treatment by a political system in which they make up a tiny minority. If I were in their shoes and had some money on hand, I’d probably spend it on political campaigns, too. Wouldn’t you?Yet not once in an otherwise good article does Levy mention that the donations were illegal. Perhaps there’s just a slight difference between legal and illegal campaign contributions that might account for the furor, as opposed to anti-Indian or anti-gambling biases? Seems a bit odd to miss this in an article on those donations.
Levy does hit on one point that’s a personal fixation, which is that this is a big deal and the Indians are handing out large political payoffs precisely because gambling is so highly regulated (as opposed to unregulated or flat out illegal). Because having a casino is primarly a political exercise it’s kind of difficult to avoid the politicization of the casino business.
A deeper problem is that Indians do benefit from special privileges, one of which is the ability to run casinos in states where it is otherwise illegal. On the other hand, Indian suffer from many special restrictions, such as the BIA. So it’s always possible to highlight one or the other depending on what side one is boosting. Indian reservations should either be shut down and made normal parts of America or made really sovereign. The current bizarre mishmash of privilege and restriction isn’t good for anyone.