Senate Panel To Take Up Indian Gaming

U.S. senators will be weighing in on the state of tribal gaming in a hearing scheduled for later this month. The occasion is the release of a GAO report critical of regulatory oversight of the industry, and it’s expected the National Indian Gaming Commission will be in for a rough time in the first hearing chaired by Wyoming Republican John Barrasso (l.).

The U.S. Senate’s Indian Affairs Committee has scheduled its first review of tribal gaming in more than a year, and media reports say the turnout will necessitate moving the July 22 hearing to a larger chamber.

It also will be the first review of tribal gaming presided over by newly appointed committee Chairman John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican serving his first full term in the upper house.

The centerpiece of the review will be a Government Accountability Office study titled “Safeguarding the Integrity of Indian Gaming: Regulation and Oversight by the Federal Government, States, and Tribes.”

The study voices concerns about corruption and mismanagement and is critical of the results of voluntary tribal compliance with federal guidelines on money handling, financial statement accuracy and casino security.

The GAO’s auditors say 25 percent of all Indian gaming operation are a “high audit risk” and their report accuses the NIGC of being negligent in enforcement actions and needs to step up efforts to ensure tribes receive training and technical assistance to aid in forming casino policy and ensuring employees are qualified to identify criminal activity.

The committee has released a press statement ahead of the hearing in which Barrasso calls on the commission to “find more effective methods that will ensure all facets of gaming are conducted with accountability and accuracy”.