The National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) has announced that its longtime general counsel, Michael Hoenig, has stepped down effective January 27.
“It is with mixed emotions that I depart NIGC,” Hoenig said in a statement. “I am sincerely grateful to have been privileged enough to get to serve with the amazing staff to advance the mission and purposes of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act — to protect Tribal gaming as one of the most important economic resources in Indian country.
“I look forward to continuing that mission from a slightly different perspective in this new role with the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians,” which is where Hoenig will become a vice president and associate general counsel for gaming.
Hoenig had been with the NIGC since 2006, and had served as general counsel for the last seven years. He was the longest-serving general counsel to date, the agency said.
His departure comes at an interesting time for the NIGC, as it is currently entrenched in a back-and-forth saga with South Carolina’s Catawba Nation over unapproved casino contracts. Additionally, California’s Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians said that it would only answer to the NIGC moving forward, after pulling out of its state’s tribal regulatory system.
“Mike’s solution-driven approach helped to institutionalize a number of new practices in the General Counsel’s office. These improvements maximized the skills of legal staff and attorneys and have been important in attracting and building one of the best legal teams the agency has ever had,” NIGC Chairman E. Sequoyah Simermeyer said in a statement.