Harold Monteau: NIGC violates trust responsibility

"The National Indian Gaming Commission recently released its long-dreaded revised regulations with regard to Class II machine gaming. The tribal and industry response was swift, vehement and absolutely correct. Communications from tribes to the NIGC called attention to several indisputable facts, most of which have been established by federal courts. Congress said in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act that ''bingo-based'' electronic gaming is Class II and that technological advances are anticipated and allowed. Congress also said that Class II gaming is not subject to the tribal/state gaming compact processes in IGRA and is strictly in the purview of the tribes and the federal government. The state was to have no involvement in the Class II process.

Nowhere in IGRA does it say that the states will assist in the writing of regulations for IGRA; nor does it say that the states will have any involvement in the enforcement of IGRA. Yet the NIGC and the U.S. Department of Justice continue to be the voice of the states in the process of agency rulemaking at the NIGC and in DoJ enforcement actions against tribes. Witness NIGC Chairman Phil Hogan's recent reference to ''the states say we haven't gone far enough.'' Since when did the states have a say in a subject that Congress left to the tribes and the NIGC?

This fiasco with Class II regulations has become an ''Alice through the looking glass'' exercise. Everything is backward from what it's supposed to be, with our ''trustee'' saying how good this is going to be for the tribes because it lends a ''bright line'' certainty to Class II. The only uncertainty in Class II gaming has been and continues to be the meddling of the DoJ and the NIGC forgetting that it has an ''advocacy'' role for tribes under the IGRA. "

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Harold Monteau: Class II regulations: NIGC violates trust responsibility (Indian Country Today 11/16)