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Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA)

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The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (Pub.L. 100-497, 25 U.S.C. § 2701 et seq.) is a 1988 United States federal law which establishes the jurisdictional framework that presently governs Indian gaming.

The Act establishes three classes of games with a different regulatory scheme for each:

  1. Class I: traditional Indian gaming and social gaming for minimal prizes.
    Regulatory authority over class I gaming is vested exclusively in tribal governments.
  2. Class II: the game of chance commonly known as bingo, and non-banked card games (played exclusively against other players rather than against the house or a player acting as a bank).
    The Act specifically excludes slot machines or electronic facsimiles of any game of chance from the definition of class II games.
    Tribes retain their authority to conduct, license, and regulate class II gaming so long as the state in which the Tribe is located permits such gaming for any purpose and the Tribal government adopts a gaming ordinance approved by the Commission, Tribal governments are responsible for regulating class II gaming with Commission oversight.
  3. Class III: all forms of gaming that are neither class I nor II (casino-style gaming).
    The Act restricts Tribal authority to conduct class III gaming.

In order for a Tribe to conduct class III gaming, the following conditions must be met:

  1. The respective game must be permitted in the state in which the tribe is located;
  2. The Tribe and the state must have negotiated a compact that has been approved by the Secretary of the Interior, or the Secretary must have approved regulatory procedures;
  3. The Tribe must have adopted a Tribal gaming ordinance that has been approved by the Chairman of the Commission.

FBI has federal criminal jurisdiction over acts directly related to Indian gaming establishments.

IGRA establishes an independent federal regulatory authority for gaming on Indian lands, Federal standards for gaming on Indian lands, and the creation of the National Indian Gaming Commission.

As an independent federal regulatory agency of the United States, the National Indian Gaming Commission (Commission) was established pursuant to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 (Act). The Commission comprises a Chairman and two Commissioners, each of whom serves on a full-time basis for a three-year term. The Chairman is appointed by the President and must be confirmed by the Senate. The Secretary of the Interior appoints the other two Commissioners. Under the Act, at least two of the three Commissioners must be enrolled members of a federally recognized Indian tribe, and no more than two members may be of the same political party.

The Commission maintains its headquarters in Washington, D.C., with five Regional Offices, located in Portland, Oregon; Sacramento, California; Phoenix, Arizona; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Tulsa, Oklahoma.

In February 2003, FBI and NIGC created the Indian Gaming Working Group (IGWG). The IGWG’s purpose is to identify resources to address the most pressing criminal violations in the area of Indian gaming.

IGWG responsibilities:

  1. To contact the Indian Country Special Jurisdiction Unit, if suspected criminal activities in the Indian gaming industry and IGWG has not enough resources
  2. To determine if the alleged criminal violation is a matter of “national importance”
  3. To make a case presentation. Following a full review, the IGWG will assist the requesting office/agency to identify and obtain resources to assist in the investigation.
  4. To assist by providing “experts” in the investigation, allocating special funding, conducting liaison with other federal agencies, facilitating the establishment of Indian gaming task forces, and/or providing consultation.

IGWG should to:

  1. Identify the Indian gaming establishments in their territory.
  2. Establish appropriate liaison with Tribal Gaming Commission (TGC) members, State Gaming Commission Representatives, State Gaming Regulatory Agency Representatives, and Casino Security Personnel.
  3. Establish liaison with representatives from the NIGC and regional Indian gaming intelligence committees.
  4. Make proactive attempts during crime surveys to identify criminal activity in Indian gaming establishments.
  5. Send investigators and financial analysts to training which provides them with the knowledge and skills they need to effectively investigate criminal activity in Indian gaming establishments.
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