WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, yesterday held a committee oversight hearing to examine the growth and evolution of the Indian gaming industry since the passage of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) of 1988.
The hearing was an opportunity to hear from administration officials and tribal leaders on new challenges and future opportunities for tribal gaming.
“The tribal gaming industry has changed significantly since President Reagan signed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act into law,” said Hoeven. “The National Indian Gaming Commission recently announced that tribal gaming brought in $31.2 billion in gross gaming revenue for 2016 – the largest amount in the history of Indian gaming. This is critical funding for essential tribal government services.”
During the hearing, Hoeven pressed witnesses to discuss their efforts to combat the challenges of today’s industry – such as cybersecurity attacks, human trafficking and public safety – and provide an outlook on the future.
In his written testimony, National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) Chairman Jonodev Osceola Chaudhuri wrote that the Commission “has forged partnerships to enhance its proactive regulatory approach to educate and provide resources to combat human trafficking,” namely with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
Harold Frank, chairman of the Forest County Potawatomi Community, noted that one of the greatest risks to Indian gaming is cybercrime. “Providing guidance on recommended minimum internal control standards for class III gaming that reflect the threats of today is an important step the NIGC can take to protect against cybercrime and safeguard the future of Indian gaming,” said Frank.
Hoeven stressed the importance of keeping vital, privileged information secure, including the sensitive information that tribes report to the NIGC.
The committee also heard testimony from Mr. John Tahsuda III, principal deputy assistant secretary for Indian Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior; the Honorable Keeny Escalanti, president of the Fort Yuma Quechan Indian Tribe; the Honorable Leonard Forsman, chairman of the Suquamish Tribe; and Mr. Ernest L. Stevens, Jr., chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association.
For more information on their testimonies click here.
The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) was enacted in 1988 to provide a statutory basis for the regulation of gaming on Indian lands. The Act established the following three classes of gaming:
• Class I gaming consists of social gaming solely for nominal prizes or traditional gaming played in connection with tribal ceremonies or celebrations and is regulated solely by tribes and not subject to IGRA.
• Class II gaming includes bingo, pull-tabs, punch boards and certain card games, and is regulated by the tribes and the Commission.
• Class III gaming includes all other forms of gaming, including casino games and slot machines, and although both Interior and the Commission play a role in overseeing certain aspects of Class III gaming, it is regulated by the tribes and the states pursuant to compacts.