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Jodi Rave: NIGC won't give up on Class II changes

"A National Indian Gaming Commission regulatory proposal that could have cost tribes across the country more than a billion dollars a year is on hold, but not likely to go away.

On Friday, NIGC Chairman Philip Hogen said he does not plan to look aside as new technology increasingly changes the face of bingo-type Class II gambling machines, making them look more like Las Vegas-style Class III slot machines.

The NIGC, the regulatory agency overseeing tribal casinos, announced on Wednesday it would be “putting aside” two of four regulatory proposals. The most controversial one would have made Class II gambling machines illegal because they allegedly defy a 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act definition.

“It's kind of a halfhearted gesture by chairman Hogen,” said chairman James Steele of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. “The whole thing needs to be pulled. It's more of an attempt to placate tribes than do what the tribes asked.”

Chairman Ernie Stevens of the National Indian Gaming Association, the advocacy organization for tribe-owned casinos, credited tribal leaders and their gaming commissioners for halting the contentious regulations.

In a statement, Stevens said NIGA and tribes will work with the commission on the remaining Class II proposals. He said work could be done to develop acceptable technical and minimum internal control standards that wouldn't create a “severe economic hardship” for tribal communities.

An NIGC economic impact study showed tribal governments could lose approximately $1.2 billion a year under the agency's proposals. And tribes would have to pay compliance costs of up to $347.9 million, according to the NIGA statement."

Get the Story:
Proposal to reclassify machines is on hold (The Missoulian 6/7)

Related Story:
Fed move makes Mass. Indian gaming more likely (The Boston Herald 6/7)