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LEGAL EAGLE: Rob Rosette

Founder, Rosette LLP

LEGAL EAGLE: Rob Rosette

Rob Rosette extends his passion for Indian gaming into his profession. The Rosette LLP founder and Chippewa-Cree tribal member under the Rocky Boy Reservation in Montana devotes his professional life to helping tribal entities.

Toward that end, he formed this company in 2005. It has offices in Phoenix, Sacramento and Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Rosette, who obtained an MBA in finance in 1996, has been responsible for more than $4 billion of economic development and governmental infrastructure projects impacting over 30 tribes in eight states. He has raised capital through financial levers like direct bank loans, taxable and tax-exempt bond financing, venture capital, development loans and bridge financing for his clients.

In 2012, he was responsible for approximately $1 billion in tribal activities. At least half a billion involved helping tribes refinance at today’s rock-bottom rates.

Rosette’s 2013 tribal impact may result more from his legal opinions than his financial acumen. The industry perceives internet gaming as the next golden goose, but holds contrasting views about addressing it. One, wait for internet gaming to be legalized before investing in it. Two, act now before the issue is completely settled and thereby beat the competition.

Rosette, who advises tribal members at seminars and has litigation experience, believes tribes should pursue the windfall now. He contends they should proceed as though federal law does not prohibit internet gaming for them. Hindsight could make that viewpoint appear smart.

“This is a huge growth factor in the industry,” Rosette says. “From what I saw of the numbers and the charts, the first year tribes became involved with internet gaming could produce up to $3 billion and 16,000 direct jobs. After five years that number would be up to $8 billion and even more direct jobs.”

Speed, therefore, is everything.

“I think that eventually everyone will be able to utilize internet gaming,” he says, “but if you wait to consider all the necessary regulatory approvals, etc., the market will be saturated by the time the tribes wanted to enter internet gaming. In my opinion, for the tribes to benefit, they have to be first to market.

“Internet gaming has never been legally tested by the tribes. I don’t think you can just accept the belief that it is illegal, and I don’t think you can just wait for a government to give its permission to you.”

Unlike previous new revenue streams, internet gaming cuts across state lines. This could become a game-changer for rural tribes seeking to expand their revenue base.

Rosette’s litigation experience includes Indian tribal cases involving public interest and civil rights.

Casino Connection Sports Editor Dave Bontempo is an award-winning sports writer and broadcaster who calls boxing matches all over the world. He has covered the Philadelphia Flyers in the playoffs, as well as numerous PGA, LPGA and Seniors Golf Tour events, and co-hosted the Casino Connection television program with Publisher Roger Gros.

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