National Indian Gaming Commission

National Indian Gaming Commission

The National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) is an independent federal regulatory agency within the Department of the Interior. Congress established this agency through the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in 1988. The agency has the duty to "promulgate such regulations and guidelines as it deems appropriate to implement the provisions of" the IGRA. The Commission has the ability to enforce IGRA's provisions, federal regulations, and tribal gaming regulations using its power to close Indian gaming operations and imposing civil fines. It also has the power to approve tribal gaming ordinances and oversee management contracts.[1] The Commission is composed of a presidentially-appointed, Senate-confirmed Chairman, and two Commissioners each of whom are appointed by the Secretary of the Interior. The first Chairman of the NIGC was Tony Hope. The current Chairperson is Tracie L. Stevens, a member of the Tulalip Tribes of Washington. She is the first Native American woman to chair the Commission. Stevens replaced Philip N. Hogen, a member of the Oglala Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, and a former United States Attorney in South Dakota.

A leading commentator and critic of the work of the Commission is Professor Kevin K. Washburn, who served as General Counsel of the Commission between 2000 and 2002. Washburn has argued that the Commission's regulatory oversight of gaming should be expanded, but that its paternalistic oversight of tribal economic decisions should be minimized.[2] Washburn has argued that Congress must shore up the NIGC's regulatory authority over Class III casino-style gaming, guard against regulatory capture in tribal regulatory commissions, and reconsider the legitimacy of federal oversight of tribal economic decision-making.[3]

The Commission is the only federal agency focused solely on the regulation of gambling, though it has many counterpart state and tribal regulatory agencies. The U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior also have some responsibilities related to Indian gaming.

The Commission maintains its headquarters in Washington, D.C., with six regional offices in Portland, Oregon; Sacramento, California; Phoenix, Arizona; St. Paul, Minnesota; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and Tulsa, Oklahoma.

See also


  1. ^ Light, Steven Andrew, and Kathyryn R.L. Rand. Indian Gaming and Tribal Sovereignty: The Casino Compromise. University Press of Kansas, 2005 (52-53)
  2. ^ Paternalism or Protection?: Federal Review of Tribal Economic Decisions in Indian Gaming (Transcript of Panel Discussion at Harvard Law School)
  3. ^ Testimony on the Regulation of Indian Gaming, United States Senate, Committee on Indian Affairs, 109th Congress, 1st Session (April 27, 2005)

External links

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