Wherever there's an Indian reservation in Movieland, there has to be a casino.
This is partly Truth in Television. In the United States, a series of legal decisions that began with Bryan v. Itasca County in 1976 and ended with the creation of the National Indian Gaming Commission in 1988 established that Native American tribal reservations who set up a "tribal-state compact" with their state are exempt from any state gambling bans or regulation (though they are still subject to federal regulation).
Since reservations are typically among the poorest and least developed parts of the nation, the upside is that giving them a monopoly on gaming is a way to attract tourists and jump-start reservation economies. The downside is that impoverished residents can be attracted to addictive gambling, and there is no guarantee that the casinos will enrich anyone but the tribal councils. Lately, the governments of smaller tribes have been disenrolling members so that casino profits are spread among fewer people.
- In a Jingle Belle miniseries, Jingle turns a declining Christmas-themed amusement park into a casino after finding out that the park owner is part Native American.
- A Native American casino is one of the main settings in Scalped, and an important reason why the reservation is riddled with crime and corruption.
- In Hell or High Water, the Texas-based Howard brothers use Native American casinos in neighboring Oklahoma as a way to launder the money they steal from banks.
- The plot of Crooked Arrows centers around the expansion plan of the casino on the Haudenosaunee tribe's land.
- Walking Tall (2004): Dwayne Johnson's character returns to his hometown to find that one of his classmates has since built a casino there. He asks his old friends how the guy managed that, since it's apparently a requirement that only Native Americans can own casinos. The friends say that the guy is part-Indian, according to the papers he provided to the gambling board... not counting whatever else the guy slipped him under the table.
- The 1992 revival series of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet had a plot involving our heroes demolishing a historic bridge in England, and rebuilding it across a canyon in Arizona to provide access to a Native American casino. In a bit of Truth in Television, this was inspired by the real story of the 1830 version of London Bridge being disassembled and sold to a real estate developer in Arizona, who made it a centerpiece of a development along the Colorado River on the border with California.
- On Banshee the local Indian tribe owns a casino. The tribe's elderly chief wants to secure his tribe's future by replacing the old building with a new modern casino and hotel. To accomplish this he makes a Deal with the Devil with Kai Proctor, the local crimelord.
- On Big Love Bill Henrickson decides to branch out from the hardware business, and partners with a Native American tribe to build a "family" casino.
- In the CSI: Miami episode "Bloodline", a gaming official accused of trying to dip into Indian casino profits is found scalped to death.
- CSI: NY used a different variation on this plot. The chief of a tribe that had set up an online casino to earn money to buy back land that had been stolen from it is murdered by another member of the tribe who works for the casino and is embezzling profits that are meant to pay for the tribe's efforts to buy back its stolen land.
- On The Glades one Victim of the Week was a tribal leader who managed the tribe's casino. She made a lot of enemies because she disqualified a lot of people from being official tribe members and thus sharing in the casino's profits.
- House of Cards: A major plot point of Season 2 involves a corrupt Native American casino owner who uses his operation to funnel foreign money into political action groups. Frank Underwood attempts to strong-arm him by getting disenfranchised members of his tribe declared as a separate tribe, which will allow them to open a competing casino of their own.
- In How I Met Your Mother, Ted and Marshall try to outwit Barney by switching the location of Marshall's bachelor party from Atlantic City to Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut. Brad leaves the group as soon as they arrive to gamble. They pick him up on the way back to New York, apparently having lost all his clothes and money while gambling.
- A Show Within a Show example. The main cast of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia made two unofficial fan-made sequels to Lethal Weapon. The Big Bad of both of them is a corrupt Native American casino owner named Chief Lazurus.
- Law & Order: Criminal Intent: A crooked fund raiser is playing both ends to raise money for a crooked congressman. Getting millions from the Indians and also from those opposing the casino while delivering nothing while embezzling from everyone. Unfortunately the congressman finds out that the fund raiser's wife is undercover Secret Service and tries to steal her files to see if he's under investigation (he isn't). The wife walks in and is beaten to death.
- Life: In episode 2x10, the deputy is killed in one of those reservation casinos.
- Malcolm in the Middle:
- When Francis finds out that one half of his and his wife's house is on reservation territory, he sets up a casino in that side of the house. Piama is not happy, both at the casino itself and also the way Francis is exploiting her heritage by claiming that the money is all "in the tribe".
- In another episode, the family goes to an Indian casino, and Hal and Malcolm are caught counting cards.
- In the "Deer Woman" episode of Masters of Horror, the obligatory Magical Native American works at a casino.
- Parks and Recreation: Ken Hotate, elder of the (fictional) Wamapoke Tribe, owns the Wamapoke Casino. He enjoys using his newfound money and influence to get back at white people for the many, many atrocities committed against Native Americans in the county. Such as the time he told everyone that the angry ghosts of his ancestors would put a curse on a carnival that was being held on the site of a Native American massacre. However, much of this behavior is Played for Laughs, as Ken gleefully loves to invoke White Guilt and Political Correctness Gone Mad just to troll people. One episode has this tagline for the casino:
Taking our money back from the white man, one quarter at a time.
- On Rutherford Falls, another Michael Schur production, the titular town neighbors the Minishonka Nation, which is home to the Running Thunder Casino. Terry Thomas, who runs the casino, seeks to use the financial resources brought in by the casino to fund a lawsuit to reclaim land that was taken from his people centuries before. Unlike with the Wamapoke, however, the Minishonka's efforts are played mostly seriously.
- The Sopranos: Tony Soprano makes a deal with the owner of such an establishment (and even visits his casino) in an attempt to use backdoor politics to stop a Native American protest of a Christopher Columbus parade.
- Yellowstone: The local Crow Indian reservation has a casino, but the tribe still struggles with poverty. The casino is run by the tribe's savvy new chief, however, who quickly develops a scheme to use a variety of legal loopholes and shady business practices to open a second casino on the border of Yellowstone National Park.
- The Wabanaki tribe from The Secret World have the Golden Wigwam being built to the north of their trailer park, intended to usher in some much-needed profits. At present, it's largely considered an eyesore and a joke among the tribe (especially since it's in the shape of a teepee, not a wigwam), not to mention embarrassingly stereotypical. Plus, it's currently infested with zombies, making it even more despised.
- The Drawn Together episode "Ghostesses in the Slot Machine" combines this trope with Indian Burial Ground. The episode ends with a Spoof Aesop: Even though the European settlers slaughtered the Indians and took all their land, their modern descendants shouldn't be allowed to have casinos, because gambling brings out the worst in white people.
- Featured in an episode of Family Guy where the Griffins, on their way to New York to get Chris reinstated into the Boyscouts, stop at an Indian casino for directions, where Lois quickly becomes addicted to gambling and loses the family car.
- Parodied on Futurama, where the Wongs own a casino staffed mostly by Native Martians. It turns out the casino was supposed to pass into their ownership years ago, and Amy returns it to them.
- John Redcorn tries to open one up in Texas in King of the Hill. It turns out there's a law against it there, and when asked why he didn't notice there being no other tribal casinos at all in the area, John simply thought he was the first to think of it.
- One of the last episodes of The PJs revolves around the Korean Jimmy finding out that he isn't part African American at all, which had been a major part of his character for most of the series, but actually Native American, leading to him opening a casino in the projects. This quickly leads to all the residents becoming addicted to gambling and going even broker than usual.
- The Simpsons:
- Homer makes an Indian chief promise him that they will build a casino in exchange for Homer breaking the dam that has flooded the natives' valley. The chief says Homer will also be offered free breakfasts and four decks at blackjack.
- In another episode, Homer gives Bart as collateral to a Native American casino and thinks that not allowing minors to gamble is a Native American custom.
- South Park: In "Red Man's Greed", evil Native American casino owners are planning to pave over South Park in order to build a freeway directly to their casino.