Regulatory Updates

Indian Gaming Regulation vs. the National Standard

Delores Piglsey
Delores Piglsey

by Delores Pigsley, Tribal Chairman
Confederated Tribe of Siletz Indians

The past few months have brought up interesting controversies concerning Indian gaming regulations. Unfortunately, how stringently the Indian gaming industry regulates operations is not common knowledge. Tribal governments always need to be diligent about making the public understand the strict policies we have for our gaming properties. The recent ruling that the NIGC does not have regulatory oversight over Class III gaming has set the stage for Indian gaming to be scrutinized once again. This ruling has made the public question who is overseeing this multibillion dollar industry.

Indian gaming properties have different ways in which they regulate their overall business. Often tribal governments choose to over regulate in order to be above any scrutiny that may come their way. Comparisons are important in this case to show how seriously we take rules and regulations in the Indian gaming industry. Regulation at Chinook Winds Casino Resort begins with the hiring process. Each employee who works at Chinook Winds Casino Resort receives careful scrutiny before they are hired, including a pre-employment drug screen, a 90-day introductory period and the ability to acquire a Siletz Tribal Gaming License, which includes a background investigation. Employees undergo random drug testing and, of course, all gaming areas are under constant surveillance. In fact, the
surveillance at Chinook Winds Casino Resort has enabled the security staff to assist the State Police and the FBI in apprehending people who have committed crimes elsewhere.

The Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians spend $1,812,000 annually on regulating the gaming operations at Chinook Winds Casino Resort. This is based on 2005 numbers spent on Gaming Commissioners, the Control Board and the internal auditor. There are sixteen full-time employees in the Commission and Control Board and one full-time auditor. In addition, we also pay the Oregon State Police $328,266 for regulatory oversight involving two detectives where one is physically on the premises. There is also the $40,000 in NIGC fees for our Class II gaming oversight. Finally, we pay $90,000 annually for an external auditor that comes every year. The external audit is done by a nationally recognized, accredited firm. To summarize, the Siletz Tribe spent a total of $2,270,000 in regulating our gaming facility in 2005.

In 2005 there were 22 separate audits performed by the Siletz Tribal Gaming Commission (STGC) and Internal Auditor for the purpose of compliance, plus weekly and annual audits conducted by Oregon State Police (OSP) and an external audit performed annually.

In comparison to national statistics of the mainstream industry, specifically the state of Nevada, Chinook Winds Casino Resort is a step ahead. In 2005 the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) and the Nevada State Control Board (NSCB) spent $37,049,700 to regulate the 11 billion dollar gaming industry in the state of Nevada. This might sound like a lot of money, however, this budget covers the entire state of Nevada.

The total personnel in the NGC and the NSCB consist of 447 employees who are in charge of regulating all 351 non-restricted locations. This breaks down to a 1.27 ratio of employee per location. Looking back at the Siletz Tribe's 17 regulatory employees for our one location brings things into perspective. To further break down the monetary expenditures, the $37,049,700 budget has to regulate 351 locations for the State of Nevada. That equates to an average of only $105,554 per location. Compare that to the $2,270,000 and 17 employees one tribe spends on regulating their one casino. On the Nevada Gaming Commission website it also states that out of their auditing division they only audit group 1, which includes revenue properties of five million dollars or more. The auditing cycle is only one out of every three years and there are only 180 properties that fit into that auditing category.

In this day and age of corporate scandals and financial dishonesty, Indian gaming should be looked upon as a shining example, providing an outline and roadmap to conducting business in a professional and honest manner. How the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians manages Chinook Winds Casino Resort is but one example of how tribes across the country are raising the bar to a higher standard than that of the industry as a whole, surpassing government implemented standards for the non-Indian gaming industry. Instead of constant scrutiny we should be applauded for our proven track record of regulating Indian gaming since its inception. Unfortunately, the Indian gaming industry will always be scrutinized when it comes to regulation by those who wish to undermine the success of Indian gaming. To counter balance that scrutiny, we must regulate ourselves in a way that leaves no questions. This issue will not go away as long as Indian gaming continues to be successful and tribes continue to prosper as a result.

Fortunately gaming, as it was intended to do, has given many tribes the means to explore and invest in new revenue generating ventures to further promote their success and efforts to become self-sufficient.

Delores Pigsley is the Tribal Chairman of the Confederated Tribe of Siletz Indians. She can be reached by calling (541) 270-5017 or email dpigsley@msn.com