National Indian Gaming Commission creates new rural position

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes own and operate the Gray Wolf Peak Casino in Evaro, Montana. Photo from GWPC

The National Indian Gaming Commission is taking steps to work more closely with tribes in rural areas.

Susan Waukon, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, is the agency's first Rural Outreach Coordinator. She will start her efforts by reaching out to the more than 90 rural tribes that are served by the NIGC's St. Paul Regional Office.

“Rural gaming tribes, large and small, help create a dynamic economy and provide needed jobs and services for their people. Rural tribes have specific needs due to the demographics of their facilities. The NIGC has a responsibility to address the needs of these rural tribal gaming facilities,” Chairman Jonodev Chaudhuri said in a press release. “We are committed to collaborating with rural gaming tribes to support their regulatory compliance and thereby increase their success in the industry.”

“Working together, providing insight and leveraging resources through cooperation and partnerships with a sharp focus on regulatory compliance are keys to rural economic development, tribal self-sufficiency and strong tribal governments,” said Waukon, who served in the Ho-Chunk Legislature before joining the NIGC.

Susan Waukon, right, with Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) and Robert Two Spears in July 2014. Photo from Twitter

The St. Paul region has the largest number of tribal operations, according to the NIGC. Some are located in urban areas of Wisconsin and Minnesota but many more are in rural parts of the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains.

The region was the only one of two whose overall revenues declined, albeit slightly, from 2013 to 2014, according to the NIGC. St. Paul also had the highest percentage of casinos with audit risks, the Government Accountability Office said in June.

Overall, the region covers facilities in nine states, more than any other.

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

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Senate committee takes look at regulation of tribal gaming (7/23)
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