The NIGA Passes Resolution Urging Interior Department to Fulfill IGRA

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May 2, 2018

Resolution asks DOI “to publish a ‘deemed approved’ notice in the Federal Register immediately and to exercise their trust responsibility to Tribal Governments” 

Washington, D.C. – May 02, 2018 – During their Annual Membership Meeting and Tradeshow on April 17th, the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) passed a resolution urging Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Ryan Zinke to adhere to this Country’s solemn trust responsibility for Indian Tribes.

The Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot Tribes of Connecticut are seeking amendments to their State Compact that would allow them to open a new facility in East Windsor, Connecticut.  The Tribes want the Trump Administration to exercise its legal obligations and approve amendments to their State Compacts and publish a deemed approve notice in the Federal Register so the project may move forward. 

NIGA Chairman, Ernie Stevens, Jr., acknowledged that “we passed this Resolution to respectfully urge the Secretary to follow the letter of federal law—the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act—and the Department’s own regulations, which require the agency to approve the compact amendments, allow them to be approved by operation of the law. The compact amendments clearly do not violate IGRA,” Stevens added, “Our 184 member Tribes enacted this Resolution in support of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe and to stress the importance of this Administration and the Department of Interior to uphold its trust responsibility through IGRA and the Part 293 Compact regulations.”

Documents were recently released from an on-going Inspector General investigation demonstrating that Interior Department staff had approved the compact amendments but were overruled at the last minute by senior appointees. 

Commenting to the Hartford Courant, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) stated: “The investigation gives the matter a ‘great deal of weight.’ The investigation is a significant breakthrough in the Department of the Interior’s stonewalling and possible conflict of interest,” Blumenthal told The Courant. “They failed to act in the best interest of the tribes and that is their obligation. They are blatantly breaking that obligation which is a matter of trust and law.”