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Casinos: Native American Tribal Casinos - Regulation

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Tribal casinos are regulated at three levels of government: federal, state, and tribal. Federal regulation is performed by the NIGC, which "oversees the licensing of gaming employees and management and reviews tribal gaming ordinances." The NIGC also has enforcement powers. In fact, in June 2004 the NIGC issued an order of temporary closure against the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians in Redwood Valley, California. The casino was allegedly operating Class III gambling devices without a compact in place with the state of California.

The federal government also has criminal jurisdiction over cases involving embezzlement, cheating, and fraud at tribal gaming operations, because such crimes are federal offenses.

State regulation is spelled out in the tribal-state compacts negotiated between the respective governments. Compacts cover such matters as the number of slot machines that may be operated, limits on types and quantities of card games that can be offered, minimum gambling ages in the casinos, authorization for casino workers to unionize, frameworks for how state and tribal regulators will work together, the length of the compact, public health and safety issues, compulsive gambling issues, the effects of tribal gaming on other state enterprises, infrastructure needs, dispute resolution, and how much revenue should be paid to the state and how often.

The tribes themselves are the primary regulators of tribal gaming. The NIGA, a trade organization for Native American casinos, reported in 2004 that more than 2,800 regulatory and enforcement personnel are employed by tribes and that more than $203 million was spent by the tribes on regulation of their industry during 2003.

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