Senate Indian Affairs Committee to look at tribal gaming industry

The Chickasaw Nation owns and operates the WinStar World Casino and Resort, in Thackerville, Oklahoma. Photo from Facebook

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee will look into tribal gaming at an oversight hearing next week.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) has not focused much on the $27 billion industry since becoming chairman of the committee in January. But he raised some concerns after the Government Accountability Office released a report last month that questioned several initiatives at the National Indian Gaming Commission.

"This new report calls for improvements in the Commission’s methods in maintaining the integrity of the gaming system,” Barrasso said in a press release at the time. “The NIGC should find more effective methods that will ensure all facets of gaming are conducted with accountability and accuracy.”

The committee's last look into gaming came a year ago this month. At an occasionally heated hearing, Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) -- who was one of the original co-sponsors of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, clashed with Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn of the Bureau of Indian Affairs about the legality of the Tohono O'odham Nation off-reservation casino.

The committee subsequently approved S.152, the Keep the Promise Act, a bill to block the West Valley Resort already under construction in a suburb of Phoenix. No hearing was held in the 114th Congress before the measure was approved at a business meeting in April.

Next week's hearing takes place July 22 in Room 216 of the Senate Hart Office Building, a larger room than the one used for the committee's regular hearings.

Committee Notice:
Oversight Hearing on "Safeguarding the Integrity of Indian Gaming" (July 22, 2015)

Government Accountability Office Report:
Regulation and Oversight by the Federal Government, States, and Tribes (June 3, 2015)

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GAO releases report into regulation of $28B tribal casino industry (06/03)

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