NIGC denies 'conspiracy' on Class II regulations

National Indian Gaming Commission Chairman Phil Hogen is rejecting criticism that he is trying to make changes in the Class II industry without going through the regulatory process.

In June, Hogen withdrew two controversial regulations affecting classification standards and definitions of Class II games like bingo. He said the rules would have cost tribes more than $1 billion in revenues.

Tribes welcomed the move but are concerned about a decision Hogen released on the same day he made the announcement. They say the NIGC is changing the rules for Class II games without seeking their input.

"In my opinion this entire process is a serious breach of trust by the government and demonstrates disregard for the rights of Native Americans,'' Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma) told The Tulsa World in a statement. "I intend to do everything possible to prevent the NIGC from implementing backdoor regulatory actions and force them to deal with tribes in a manner that is open, honest and above board.''

Hogen denies the charge but acknowledges his decision could resolve some of the issues that were part of the withdrawn regulations. "There is no conspiracy here,'' Hogen told the World.

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Actions on Indian gambling termed dishonest (The Tulsa World 8/10)