Montana Tribes Want More from Indian Gambling Commission

Montana Indian tribes recently expressed to the National Indian Gaming Commission that they are feeling left out and neglected by the Commission. In a rare meeting between Commission members, including Chairman, Phil Hogen, and approximately fifty representatives from several Montana tribes, the tribes unanimously expressed sentiments of dissension toward the National Indian Gaming Commission, which the tribes are saying has done nothing to serve as an advocate for them in the passing of particular casino gaming laws and regulations.

Reuben Mathias, who is a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, posed the question, “If we’ve got a chance to better ourselves with gaming, why don’t you let us do that?”. Part of what Mathias was addressing are the recent regulations the Indian Gaming Commission has proposed. The tribes are crying out these regulations will strangle their capacity to profitably run gaming operations and consequently hinder tribal self-sufficiency.

This is precisely what the National Indian Gaming Commission was designated to help foster. Established in 1988 under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the Commission’s primary mission is to ensure that tribal casino gambling opportunities help to develop economic gain for tribes so they can become self-sufficient entities. In a broader sense, the NIGC is imposed with the duties of regulating casino gaming activities on Indian reservations in the U.S.

What often makes the establishment of regulations is that both the tribe and the state in which the tribal lands are located must have a compact to establishes rules for governing casinos and the like before those rules and regulations can even be established. This is what is not happening in Montana, where the state is in opposition to tribes seeking more freedom in their casino gaming activities.