NIGA, in partnership with the National Congress of American Indians, hosted a NIGA-NCAI taskforce meeting in which they each reiterated their commitment to a unified approach in discussing the internet gaming issue. Both organizations have standing Resolutions that call for any Internet gaming legislation to respect the principles of Tribal Sovereignty, tribal taxation, tribal regulatory authority, and designating the NIGC as the federal agency working with Tribes on any internet gaming regulation.
Later, NIGA hosted an internet gaming forum, in which tribal leaders and the U.S. Congressional representatives provided information and feedback about online gaming.
NIGA’s Chairman presided over this meeting which was designed to provide a chance for Tribal Leaders and members of Congress to engage in a dialogue on the subject of internet gaming away from the formalities of Washington, D.C. The work conducted at this meeting will lay the foundation to bring about an understanding between Congress, States, and most importantly the tribal leadership.
“It is not a matter of when, but a matter of who internet gaming will work for. With the reinterpretation of the Wire Act, having a seat at the table is not enough.” Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr., stated. “From this forum today, we are moving forward together. Every Tribe and all states will be a part of this discussion.”
California congressional representatives, Mary Bono Mack, Brian Bilbray, Jeff Denham, Darrel Issa and Minnesota representative Betty McCollum provided their perspectives while listening closely to Tribal concerns. Tribal leaders took turns expressing their own Tribes’ concerns and the potential opportunities regarding internet gaming. Many reiterated the Tribal principles of sovereignty and self-regulation.
Several Tribes mentioned that in light of the December 2011 Department of Justice their respective State Governments were now moving toward internet sales of lottery tickets and potentially other forms of gaming. The Congressional delegation urged Tribal Governments to communicate their principles and work with States on a government-to-
In addition, Congressional members urged Tribes to continue to educate Congress on the success of Indian gaming and how it has positively impacted Indian Country. There could potentially be over 100 new members of Congress and the Senate on November 6th this year, all who will have limited knowledge of Indian Gaming, let alone internet gaming.
The meeting concluded with Tribal leaders urging continuing dialogue on this issue as we move towards the Great Plains Indian Gaming Tradeshow in May and NCAI’s Mid-Year Conference in June.
“This was a historic event at NIGA’s Tradeshow. It is the first Congressional listening session in this type of setting and Tribal Leaders have encouraged us to hold similar forums in the future. I personally pledged that our staff will work with Tribal leaders to conduct these general listening sessions in the near future.”
NIGA’s next membership meeting will take place September 18-19, at the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, Florida. However, the NIGA Internet and Economic Development Subcommittee will continue to meet throughout the spring and summer.
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The mission of NIGA is to protect and preserve the general welfare of tribes striving for self-sufficiency through gaming enterprises in Indian Country. To fulfill its mission, NIGA works with the Federal government and Congress to develop sound policies and practices and to provide technical assistance and advocacy on gaming-related issues. In addition, NIGA seeks to maintain and protect Indian sovereign governmental authority in Indian Country.