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Boards & Commissions

Native American Tribal Gambling (National)

In 1997, Congress established the National Gambling Impact Study Commission (NGISC) to conduct a comprehensive legal and factual study of the social and economic implications of gambling in the United States. The NGISC officially began its two-year study on June 20, 1997. They unanimously adopted a research agenda based on 42 specific policy questions in October, 1997, and they contracted a major research taskforce.

During June 1999, NGISC issued a final report on this issue and this summary includes the portions pertaining to Native American Tribal Gambling. The study presents recommendations on gambling to the President, Congress, governors, tribal leaders, and a broad range of individuals within the public and private sectors.

The National Gambling Impact Study Commission (NGISC) established a Subcommittee on Indian Gambling to supplement the full commission's work in this area. Six formal hearings were held around the country and with the assistance of the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA), the subcommittee received testimony from 100 tribal members representing more than 50 tribes across the nation.

The report states that large-scale Indian gambling is barely a decade old. Its origins trace back to 1987, when a landmark Supreme Court decision, in effect, limited the ability of states to regulate commercial gambling on Indian reservations. In order to provide a regulatory framework for Indian gambling, in 1988 Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

The commission recommends to state governments and the federal government that states are best equipped to regulate gambling within their own borders with two exceptions -- tribal and Internet gambling. These two areas had their own respective sections in the final report.

The commission acknowledged the central role of the National Indian Gaming Commission (formed under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act) as the lead federal regulator of tribal governmental gambling. The commission encouraged Congress to assure adequate NIGC funding for proper regulatory oversight to ensure integrity and fiscal accountability. The Commission supports the NIGC's new Minimum Internal Control Standards, developed with the help of the National Tribal Gaming Commissioners and Regulators, as an important step to ensure such fiscal accountability. The commission recommends all tribal gaming commissions work to ensure the tribal gaming operations they regulate meet or exceed these minimum standards, and the NIGC focus special attention on tribal gaming operations struggling to comply with these and other regulatory requirements.

A new study should be published by the NIGC annually. Further, the commission recommends that the independent auditors should also review and comment on each tribal gambling operation's compliance with the Minimum Internal Control Standards promulgated by the NIGC.

The commission recommends that upon written request a reporting Indian tribe should make immediately available to any enrolled tribal member the annual certified independently audited financial statements and compliance review of the MICS submitted to the National Indian Gaming Commission. A tribal member should be able to inspect such financial statements and compliance reviews at the tribal headquarters or request that they are mailed.

The commission recommends that tribes, states, and local governments should recognize the mutual benefits that may flow to communities from Indian gambling. Further, the commission recommends that the tribes should enter into reciprocal agreements with state and local governments to mitigate the negative effects of the activities that may occur in other communities and to balance the rights of tribal, state, and local governments; tribal members; and other citizens.

The commission recommends that tribal governments should be encouraged to use some of the net revenues derived from Indian gambling as "seed money" to further diversify tribal economies and to reduce their dependence on gambling.

Joint Committee on State-Tribal Relations of the Kansas Legislature

The Joint Committee on State-Tribal Relations was created through the enactment of 1999 HB 2065.  The Joint Committee replaced the joint committee on Gaming Compacts. The responsibilities and organization of the new joint committee are summarized below and are part of a report of the Joint Committee on State-Tribal Relations to the 2007 Kansas Legislature.

The joint committee is authorized by statute to:

  • Establish and transmit to the Governor proposed guidelines reflecting the public policies and state interests that the joint committee will consider in reviewing proposed compacts;
  • Make recommendations to the Governor concerning gaming compacts;
  • Hold public hearings on proposed gaming compacts submitted to the joint committee by the Governor;
  • Recommend modification of proposed gaming compacts submitted by the Governor and introduce resolutions approving proposed gaming compacts and recommend that such resolutions be adopted or not be adopted, or report such resolutions without recommendation, and notify the Governor, in writing, of the joint committee's action;
  • Meet, discuss, and hold hearings on issues concerning state and tribal relations;
  • Make recommendations on issues of state-tribal relations; and
  • Introduce such legislation as deemed necessary in performing its functions.

Six members of the committee constitute a quorum. However, actions of the committee regarding approval of state-tribal gaming compacts require the affirmative vote of at least eight members - (at least four senators and four representatives.) The committee could report a compact without recommendation on the affirmative vote of any five legislative members. Annually, the committee will elect its chair and vice chair. The chair will alternate between the House (even years) and Senate (odd years).

The Joint Committee on State-Tribal Relations met for 2 days during the 2006-2007 interim. In the past, the joint committee, at the invitation of the tribes, has conducted tours of the reservations of each of the federally recognized tribes in Kansas. The committee has also toured each of the Indian gaming facilities currently in operation in Kansas, as agreed to by the State under the terms of the 1995 tribal-state gaming compacts.

The joint committee has concluded that there are a number of areas in which state-tribal relations have been productive and beneficial to both the state and the tribes. The joint committee is of the opinion that these mutually beneficial areas can be the basis of future positive relationships. Examples of these positive relationships have included:

  • The coordinated efforts of the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services and the four tribes in the areas of child support enforcement, Medicaid, and Healthwave, child welfare agreements, Indian Health Service participation in Medicaid, and managed care contracts, Indian Child Welfare Act and the Adoption and Safe Families Act, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services, Child Protective Services, and Welfare-to-Work Program information;
  • The riparian buffer initiative undertaken by Kansas State University on the Potawatomi Reservation to control erosion of streambanks, implement conservation practices, and protect reservation resources;
  • The Tribal Law and Government Center program at the University of Kansas Law School which has the two goals of preparing a new generation of advocates, particularly American Indians and other indigenous peoples, for careers representing Indian nations and peoples, and establishing a forum for the research and study of tribal legal and governance issues;
  • The Tribal Management Program at Haskell Indian Nations University which is an attempt to improve management skills of student interns who also enroll in courses at the University of Kansas .

The joint committee is also aware that there are some areas where state-tribal relations could be improved. The joint committee believes that more open communication and cooperation between the state and the tribes is the key to improving these relationships. The members believe that the joint committee will be a useful forum to allow for improved communication and cooperation.

The joint committee is part of a national effort to improve state-tribal relations. “State legislatures can be a powerful forum in which to deal with state-tribal relations, because they have primary responsibility to develop state policies governing resource allocation and give authority and direction to agencies to carry out programs and provide services.” Government to Government: Understanding State and Tribal Governments, National Conference of State Legislatures and National Congress of American Indians June 2000, p. ix.