National Indian Gaming Commission cites Seminole Nation again

The Seminole Nation Casino in Seminole, Oklahoma. Photo by Juan Gonzales via Facebook

The National Indian Gaming Commission appears to be at the end of its rope when it comes to one Oklahoma tribe.

The agency issued another notice of violation to the Seminole Nation on May 20, the latest in a series of enforcement actions that date to the late 1990s. Chairman Jonodev Chaudhuri warned the tribe to bring its three gaming facilities into compliance by June 19 or face a closure order.

According to Chaudhuri, the NIGC has "expended a substantial amount of time and effort over the last several years to assist the Nation in correcting these violations. I am therefore not confident that additional time will result in substantial compliance."

"More importantly, the more time passes, the less confidence I have that controls are in place at the Nation's gaming operations adequate to ensure that the Nation is the primary beneficiary of the gaming operations and that gaming is conducted fairly and honestly by both the operations and players," Chaudhuri wrote in the 13-page notice.

According to the NIGC, the tribe has failed to establish and implement internal control standards to address the day-to-day operations of its casinos. The notice lays out a long history of violations of federal law and regulations, several of which were upheld by the full commission.

In March, Chief Leonard Harjo told The Ada News that the tribe was working to correct the problems. As one step, he said he placed the Seminole Nation Gaming Commission under the authority of his office.

But those efforts do not appear to have convinced the NIGC. In the notice, Chaudhuri said he warned tribal leaders in February that they weren't making enough progress.

The tribe previously shut down its casinos in June 2003 after losing a battle with the NIGC over the operation of Class III games without a valid compact. The agency imposed a fine of nearly $11.3 million and a settlement was reached to allow the fine to be paid off in quarterly payments.

While making those payments, the tribe periodically sought a waiver of the amount owed. A request in January 2012 set in motion what the NIGC said was over 1,700 hours of on-site training and technical assistance to the tribe in hopes of resolving numerous compliance issues.

The tribe has a right to appeal the notice of violation. It would go to the full commission, which has finally has all three members for the first time in more than three years.

The tribe operates three Seminole Nation Gaming Enterprise locations.

Related Stories:
Seminole Nation develops plan to address issues raised by NIGC (3/16)

Join the Conversation