For years, the relationship between the National Indian Gaming Association and the National Indian Gaming Commission has been strained. Efforts by the NIGC to establish strict Class II/Class III divisions, regulations about off-reservation gaming and other issues have riled NIGA members.
And now that the man who appointed NIGC Chairman Phil Hogen, former President George Bush, is out of office, NIGA has had enough.
In a resolution passed at the recent annual trade show and conference produced by NIGA, the organization demands the resignation of Hogen.
“We had to fight tooth and nail to defend aggressive positions against our tribal sovereignty, a lack of consultation and things of that nature,” NIGA Chairman Ernie Stevens Jr. said. “In my personal opinion, his era is over. It’s time to move on.”
The most controversial action during Hogen’s tenure was an attempt to draw a “bright line” between Class II and Class III gaming. The chairman was vigorously attacked by tribes as the commission conducted a nationwide tour soliciting comments. Hogen said he was merely trying to make a compromise to what would have been even more harsh regulations imposed by the Department of Justice, even though tribes were generally successful in challenging those regulations in courts.
Eventually, Hogen gave up, but NIGA’s problems didn’t end there. The organization has long challenged the NIGC’s role in oversight of Class III gaming. NIGA claims the NIGC charter gives it responsibility only over Class II gaming. Efforts to establish minimum internal control standards (MICS) might infer such authority, says the NIGC.