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National Indian Gaming Commission

National Indian Gaming Commission
Seal of the National Indian Gaming Commission
Agency overview
Formed October 18, 1988 (1988-10-18)
Jurisdiction Federal government of the United States
Headquarters Washington, D.C.
Employees 102(2013)
Agency executives
  • , Acting Chairman
  • , Associate Commissioner
Website .gov.nigcwww

The National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) is an independent federal regulatory agency within the Department of the Interior. Congress established the agency pursuant to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in 1988. The Commission comprises a Chair and two Commissioners, each of whom serves on a full-time basis for a three-year term. The Chair is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The Secretary of the Interior appoints the other two Commissioners. Under the Act,at least two of the three Commissioners must be enrolled members of a federally recognized Indian tribe, and no more than two members may be of the same political party. The first Chairman of the NIGC was Tony Hope. The current Chair is vacant after Tracie L. Stevens, a member of the Tulalip Tribes of Washington, stepped down in August 2013. Stevens was the first Native American woman to chair the Commission.

The Commission is the only federal agency focused solely on the regulation of gambling, though it has many counterpart state and tribal regulatory agencies. The U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior also have responsibilities related to Indian gaming.


  • Mission 1
  • Vision 2
  • History 3
  • Commission Structure 4


The NIGC’s primary mission is to work within the framework created by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) for the regulation of gaming activities conducted by sovereign Indian tribes on Indian lands to fully realize IGRA’s goals: (1) promoting tribal economic development, self-sufficiency and strong tribal governments; (2) maintaining the integrity of the Indian gaming industry; and (3) ensuring that tribes are the primary beneficiaries of their gaming activities.


The Commission’s vision is to adhere to the principles of good government, including transparency and agency accountability; to promote fiscal responsibility; to operate with consistency and clarity to ensure fairness in the administration of IGRA; and to respect the capabilities and responsibilities of each sovereign Indian tribe in order to fully promote tribal economic development, self-sufficiency and strong tribal governments.


Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was enacted to support and promote tribal economic development, self-sufficiency and strong tribal governments through the operation of gaming on Indian lands. The Act provides a regulatory framework to shield Indian gaming from corruption, and to ensure that the games offered are fair and honest and that tribes are the primary beneficiaries of gaming operations. The Act created the Commission to protect tribal gaming as a means of generating revenue for tribal communities. IGRA placed the Commission within the Department of the Interior (DOI), but also provided it with independent Federal regulatory authority. The Commission monitors tribal gaming activity, inspects gaming premises, conducts background investigations and audits of Class II gaming operations (and Class III gaming operations, upon request or as provided by applicable law, such as tribal gaming ordinances and tribal-state compacts). The Commission also provides technical assistance and training to tribal gaming commissions and operations and, when appropriate, undertakes enforcement actions.

The Commission fulfills its responsibilities under IGRA by:

  • regulating and monitoring certain aspects of Indian gaming;
  • coordinating its regulatory responsibilities with tribal regulatory agencies through the review and approval of tribal gaming ordinances and management agreements;
  • reviewing the backgrounds of individuals and entities to ensure the suitability of those seeking to manage Indian gaming;
  • overseeing and reviewing the conduct and regulation of Indian gaming operations;
  • referring law enforcement matters to appropriate tribal, Federal and state entities; and
  • when necessary, undertaking enforcement actions for violations of IGRA, NIGC’s regulations and tribal gaming ordinances, including imposing appropriate sanctions for such violations.

Commission Structure

The Commission provides Federal oversight to 472 tribally owned, operated or licensed gaming establishments operating in 28 states. The Commission maintains its headquarters in Washington, DC, and has seven regional offices and two satellite offices. The Commission is divided into four separate divisions. Approximately half of the Commission staff is assigned to headquarters in Washington, DC, with the remaining staff assigned to regional offices located in Portland, OR; Sacramento, CA; Phoenix, AZ; St. Paul, MN; Tulsa, OK; Washington, DC; and Oklahoma City, OK; and satellite offices in Rapid City, SD and Temecula, CA.

The Commission established its field offices to improve the level and quality of services it provides to tribes, and to enhance its ability to communicate, collaborate and interact with tribes located within each office’s geographic region. The field offices are vital to carrying out the statutory responsibilities of the Commission. By having auditors and compliance officers close to tribal gaming facilities, the Commission seeks to facilitate compliance with the Act and better relationships with tribal leaders, officials and regulatory personnel. In addition to auditing and investigative activities, the field staff provides technical assistance and training to promote a better understanding of gaming controls within

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