When tribes team up with payday lenders, who profits?

…is the subtitle of this Al Jazeera America piece on the use of tribal sovereign immunity to shield payday lenders from the reach of consumer protection laws (while, incidentally, providing little benefit to the tribes themselves).

As the article explains:

Tribal sovereignty allows the rancherias’ businesses to claim immunity from state usury laws, making them convenient shelters for lenders who want to evade regulators.

Yet little of the revenue that flows through these tribal businesses ends up in the rancheria or benefiting tribal members, as attested by the cluster of rundown houses nearby, where some members of the tribe live. They don’t look like villainous tycoons preying on low-income Americans. They look more like those cash-strapped loan customers themselves.

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