Biden Urged to Fill NIGC’s Vacant Chair

Indian Gaming Association Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr., is urging the Biden administration to appoint a new chairman for the National Indian Gaming Commission. The vacancy has existed since February.

Biden Urged to Fill NIGC’s Vacant Chair

President Joe Biden is being chided for delays in filling the vacated chair of the National Indian Gaming Commission, CDC Gaming Reports wrote April 14.

The chair has been vacant since late February when E. Sequoyah Simermeyer resigned for a position at FanDuel. The president nominates the chairman, who is approved by the U.S. Senate. The remaining two members of the three-person commission are appointed by the Secretary of the Interior.

Indian Gaming Association Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr., called on the administration to fill the chair when he was interviewed at the Indian Gaming Tradeshow & Convention in Anaheim, Calif. last week. He said the vacancy is causing delays in important business of the commission.

Recently U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced the reappointment of Jeannie Hovland of the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe of South Dakota and the appointment of Sharon Avery, of the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan to the NIGC.

Per CDC, Stevens said, “We’ve been trying to get the Biden administration to move swiftly on this. For the last year, we’ve seen this coming. We lobbied then and are lobbying now. We continue to be respectful in our dialogue, but we’ve been constantly pounding away at it. We need active commissioners.”

Stevens said that several candidates have shown interest in the position, but did not name them.

The chairman added, “I want them to appoint somebody. I’m okay with a man or a woman. I want them to be educated and prefer they’re Native American and understand tribal gaming and economic development and know the background. A whole bunch of people have been educated in that manner. Years ago, we had to get some help, but almost 40 years later, we’re the experts. There are plenty of people out there to do the job.”

Stevens added that he’s not angling for the job, per CDC. “I work for the tribes and I’ll work for the tribes until I retire,” he said, adding that he planned to run for reelection to the IGA chairmanship.

“I’m 64 years old and I promise you, I won’t be in this office when I’m 70,” he said. “I’ve been in this capacity for 23 years. Other people want to do my job and all kinds of people are capable of doing it. It requires dedication and commitment and travel.”